HOUSTON - If this is the beginning of the road to legitimacy for Houston second-year forward Terrence Jones, his first steps toward establishing the consistency that turns promising players into productive ones, few can blame the Rockets for being enamored with what they've witnessed.
Jones again provided dynamic play on both ends of the court, posting a career-high 24 points plus nine rebounds and two blocks in the Rockets' 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 finished 10-of-12 from the floor as the Rockets (8-4), bolstered by his addition, improved to 3-1 with Jones in the lineup.
"I think he's playing really well. I think he's played really well every chance he's got," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said of Jones. "He's really been big rebounding for us, he's been running well for us, he's got really good hands. He catches and finishes around the basket. He can dribble handoff, he can play-make, he can do some stuff on the perimeter that keeps the defense stretched. Terrence does a lot of good things for us."
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 and with the Dallas Mavericks on the schedule Wednesday night, no Houston starter played more than 31 minutes.
After their runaway first half the Rockets earned their rest. In charge from the opening tip, Houston totaled 19 fast-break points and 36 points in the paint while leading by as many as 25 in the first half.
Boston (4-8) has sandwiched two four-game skids around a four-game winning streak, failing to reach 100 points in the latter skid. 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. Reserve guard Courtney Lee led Boston, which trailed by as many as 35, with 17 points.
"I don't have anything I'm excited about from today's game," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "I want to make sure we don't play like that again so I never look at it as it was just one of those things because there is something behind when you don't play the way you're supposed to."
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. His offensive timing was particularly noteworthy, with deft cuts to the basket enabling teammates to make crisp passes that resulted in layups. Jones' fluidity also reflected a growing grasp of his role in the Rockets' prolific offense.
"I'm just trying to make the simple plays, trying to be there for cuts and offensive rebounds when I can," said Jones, averaging 13.5 points and 10 boards since his promotion. "Just do all the things that help us win."
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 cushion and eclipsed the 40-point plateau in a first period for the first time since scoring 41 on the Miami Heat Feb. 21, 2008. Fifteen fast-break points made scoring easy.
The Celtics, meanwhile, missed their first nine shots. The Rockets blocked seven shots and nabbed three steals to stifle Boston in the first.
Boston closed to within 18 points on forward 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.
"They looked a lot better than the last time I watched them on League Pass," Lee said of the Rockets.
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." ... 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."