Icy stare: engaged. (Screencap via @MrTrpleDouble10)
The Celtics were in the game, right there with the Rockets, the score all tied up. They hadn’t missed one shot, made one mistake, and hadn’t given up a single basket, either.
And then the referee tossed the ball up.
Four minutes later, the Rockets led, 18-1.
So, yes: Bad, real bad, Michael Jackson. It was a trainwreck, and perhaps nothing summed that up better than the reaction of injured point guard Rajon Rondo after being handed a stat sheet detailing the damage while sitting on the Boston bench:
We're not sure which stat struck Rondo — that Boston missed nine shots and turned the ball over three times before its first make from the field, an Avery Bradley jumper more than five minutes into the game; that Houston had made eight of its first 10 shots in that same stretch; that Brad Stevens' team gave up 10 layups in the first quarter; that they trailed by 22 points after 12 minutes, and that it was only that close because three of Boston's seven made shots came from beyond the arc; that the C's missed more shots (22) than the Rockets took (20) in the first quarter; or something else — but whichever one did clearly struck him forcefully. At that point, he knew he had to strap in and just ride this one out, and that couldn't have been easy.
Boston trailed by double-figures for the final 45-plus minutes of the game, as Houston cruised to a 109-85 win and sent the Celtics to their fourth straight loss. (The Celtics now have two four-game losing streaks sandwiching one four-game winning streak this season, which is weird.) Six Rockets scored in double-figures, led by emerging power forward Terrence Jones (24 points on 10 for 12 shooting, nine rebounds, two blocks in 27 minutes), and both coaches emptied their benches, with all 13 Celtics who dressed seeing floor time and all 11 available Rockets — including returning unhappy camper Omer Asik — scoring at least four points.
Celtics fans looking for good news can take solace in the fact that a loss this bad and a 4-8 record still keep Boston just one game out of the lead in the ever-expanding garbage fire that is the Atlantic Division. Those looking for bad news can just take a look at that shot chart; I'm pretty sure Rondo won't mind not looking at it anymore, or ever again.
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