Jalen Green scored a team-high 28 points while rookie Jabari Smith Jr. posted his third consecutive 20-point, 10-rebound game as the Houston Rockets held on for a 111-109 victory over the visiting Boston Celtics on Monday (Tuesday, March 14, Manila time).
Green missed 21 of 29 shots from the floor but finished 10 of 11 from the free-throw line, and his two free throws with 10 seconds left gave Houston a 110-107 lead.
After Jaylen Brown, who scored a season-high 43 points for the Celtics, converted a layup, Smith made one of his two free throws and the Rockets survived when Jayson Tatum missed a driving layup at the buzzer.
Houston appeared to seize control midway through the fourth quarter when Usman Garuba and Kenyon Martin Jr. combined to stroke three 3-pointers over successive possessions, with the Martin triple giving the Rockets a 98-89 lead.
What followed was a parade to the free-throw line for the Celtics, who closed to within 106-105 with 1:44 remaining on a Marcus Smart free throw.
Smith paired 24 points with 12 rebounds while Martin added 20 points and seven boards. Kevin Porter Jr. tallied 14 points, six rebounds, 13 assists and three steals for the Rockets, who handed Boston their fourth loss in six games. The Celtics were 10 of 12 from the free-throw line in the fourth.
Tatum posted 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Malcolm Brogdon tallied 20 points off the bench.
Martin provided the Rockets their first double-digit lead at 68-58 and Houston pushed that advantage to 13 points in the third quarter. But the Celtics never lost contact, and when Tatum buried a 3-pointer with 8.7 seconds left in the frame, Boston pulled to within 85-80.
Green scored 16 points in the opening period, one that featured four ties and 11 lead changes. With Smith making all three of his shot attempts while grabbing five boards, the Rockets had just enough to overcome a buzzer-beating Brogdon 3-pointer to take a 31-29 lead into the second.
But when Derrick White nailed a trey with 6:58 left in the first half, the Rockets’ lead was gone. However, the Rockets closed the half with a 12-5 kick that featured two Smith threes and two baskets at the rim from Martin that produced a 62-55 halftime lead. – Rappler.com
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