Reserve Center Greg Smith had surprising 20 points off the bench and nabbed 6 boards in twenty two minutes, helping his Houston Rockets to a 101-89 victory over a tired-looking Boston Celtics Friday night.
Smith averages just under 6 points per game, but found his scoring touch, hitting on 8 of 9 shots as the Celtics played yet another inconsistent defensive game. James Harden warmed up in the second half to log 21 points while forward Chandler Parsons chipped in with 15 as the Rockets evened their record at 11-11.
The visiting Celtics were coming off of a physically taxing double overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night and seemed to get mired in sluggish streaks throughout the contest.
Paul Pierce led the scoring for Boston with 18 points despite shooting a abysmal 27% on 5 of 18 shooting. Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo scored 14 and 15 points respectively and Jason Terry contributed 12 points off the bench for the 12-10 Celtics.
Harden’s night wasn’t much better as his 21 points came on just 6 for 17 shooting, which included a woeful 2 for 7 from behind the arc.
Much of his difficulty had to do with being guarded by Boston’s Courtney Lee, who started his first game in two weeks – and whose manic defensive effort against Harden in the first half helped the Celtics to a two point lead at the break.
Pierce hit 2 of 4 three point shots for the Celtics to go a long with a team high seven boards and Rondo dished out 13 dimes for yet another double-double.
After a tough first half, Harden found his groove in the third quarter scoring 10 points to go along with four assists, two rebounds and a steal in the third quarter as Houston built a lead it would not relinquish.
The Celtics travel to San Antonio tomorrow night to take on the mighty Spurs, while Houston travels to Toronto to try and build on tonight’s momentum against the 4-19 Raptors.