HOUSTON - Rockets power forward Terrence Jones scored a career-high 24 points and all five Houston starters scored in double figures in a 109-85 victory over the Boston Celtics Tuesday night at Toyota Center.
Jones, making his fourth consecutive start, sank his first eight shot attempts en route to eclipsing his previous career high of 14 points by halftime. He shot 10-of-12 and added nine rebounds and two blocks as the Rockets (8-4) improved to 3-1 with him in the starting lineup.
Houston center Dwight Howard added 10 points and 11 rebounds while forward Chandler Parsons chipped in 11 points and six assists. Facing back-to-back games, no Houston starter played more than 31 minutes.
The Celtics (4-8) have sandwiched two four-game skids around a four-game winning streak, failing to reach 100 points in their latter streak. Facing a gruesome stretch of four games in five nights with elite teams like San Antonio and Indiana on tap, the Celtics cleared their bench early. Guard Avery Bradley scored 11 points but hoisted 22 shots.
Jones continued his pursuit of cementing his spot in the starting lineup, pairing 11 points with five rebounds as the Rockets ran the Celtics into a 22-point deficit by the close of the first quarter. Jones' offensive timing was particularly noteworthy, with his deft cuts to the basket enabling teammates to make easy passes that resulted in layups.
Jones did bury a 3-pointer at the 4:54 mark of the first for a 26-8 Houston lead. But his previous four baskets that period were in the restricted area as Houston built a 40-18 lead and eclipsed the 40-point plateau in an opening period for the first time since scoring 41 on the Miami Heat Feb. 21, 2008. Fifteen fast-break points made scoring easy.
The Celtics closed to within 18 points on Brandon Bass' transition basket at the 4:36 mark of the second quarter, but Jones answered with a driving layup before later adding a dunk on a screen-and-roll with Parsons. Jones had 17 points by intermission, and Houston led 68-44.
NOTES: Rockets C Omer Asik rejoined the team on Monday after declaring himself unavailable against the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets last week following his removal from the starting lineup. Reports surfaced that Asik demanded a trade following his relegation to the bench. "The thing is I was just frustrated," Asik said. "It's behind me now. I'm just looking forward to helping my team win." ... Given the uncertainty surrounding Asik, Rockets coach Kevin McHale might continue relying on second-year forwards Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas. Neither is as accomplished a rebounder as Asik. "Sometimes when we take Dwight (Howard) out and Omer is not playing, those two are our top rebounders," McHale said. "Omri (Casspi) and Motiejunas have really got to hit the boards hard." ... During the Celtics' four-game winning streak, Boston G Avery Bradley averaged 15.8 points on 52 percent shooting. Bradley recorded a season-high 27 points in a 106-88 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 16. "I think his confidence is really good, at least it was in the last game," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Bradley. "In most of the last six or seven games. he's played really well."