Sun, Jan 13, 2013 - Page 20 News List

NBA: Celtics prove too hot for stuttering Houston Rockets

Staff writer, with Agencies

The Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets 103-91 in Boston on Friday, the Rockets’ second defeat in three days.

Jeremy Lin scored 12 points on four of nine shooting attempts and three of five free throws. He also made six assists, five rebounds and three steals, with no errors.

However, Houston could not outrun the Celtics and shot poorly.

The Rockets “simply couldn’t shoot straight, especially from the free throw line where Houston shot an unspeakable 12-for-29,” said commentator Jason Friedman for NBA.com, blaming the low number for the Rockets’ fate on Friday as the team recorded its second straight loss on the heels of a five-game winning streak.

On Wednesday, the Rockets lost to the New Orleans Hornets 88-79. In Boston, the Rockets at one point found themselves with a chance of winning in the fourth quarter with a 12-0 run that enabled them to narrow the gap to just two points.

However, just as quickly as Houston had found their way back into the contest, the Celtics shoved them back down. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett rapidly restored order for Boston, teaming up to propel the Celtics on a 15-3 run after which the Rockets never challenged again.

Rajon Rondo finished with 12 points and eight assists for the Celtics. Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger scored 14 apiece and Sullinger also had 11 rebounds for his second straight double-double.

“We dug ourselves a little hole and we spent a lot of energy coming back and we just weren’t able to sustain the energy,” Lin was quoted in the Friedman article as saying.

“They did a good job putting pressure on us. They really controlled the tempo and they got the shots they wanted to get and we didn’t make them uncomfortable enough,” Lin said.

The Rockets’ most powerful shooter, James Harden, scored the most points in the game (24), but also made six errors.

The Celtics’ 51.9 percent shooting rate overshadowed the Rockets’ 43.8 percent.

Lin said: “There were a lot of fouls today and our foul shooting was terrible. Both of those things combined, a lot of fouls and you’re not hitting your free throws, makes it really hard for us to have the ability to get that rhythm that we normally get.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant scored 42 points, Russell Westbrook had 27 points and 10 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder easily sent the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers crashing to their sixth straight defeat, 116-101.

Kevin Martin scored 15 points and hit three 3-pointers for the Thunder, who romped to a 27-point lead in the second half of their seventh victory in nine games.

Oklahoma City (28-8) matched the Clippers for the NBA’s best record with a virtuoso performance from Durant, who had 38 points midway through the third quarter.

Kobe Bryant scored 28 for the Lakers, on their first six-game skid since March 2007.

Antawn Jamison added 19 points as Los Angeles looked lost and overmatched in their third straight game without starting big men Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

“We have to put things in proper perspective,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said.

“They have some of their best players not playing tonight and they’re short-handed. They’re going to be a different team once they get everybody back,” he said.

In other NBA action it was:

‧ Bulls 108, Knicks 101

‧ Hawks 103, Jazz 95

‧ Hornets 104, T-Wolves 92

‧ Nets 99, Suns 79

‧ Raptors 99, Bobcats 78

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