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Reaction: Celtics edge short-handed Rockets as Alperen Sengun posts third career triple-double

HOUSTON — In night two of a difficult back-to-back at Toyota Center, the severely short-handed Rockets (20-22) couldn’t quite keep pace with the loaded Boston Celtics (33-10) in a 116-107 loss (box score). But the home team didn’t go down without a fight.

Despite trailing by double digits most of the way, Houston kept pushing and came within a possession on multiple trips in the fourth quarter. However, the Rockets couldn’t get a final breakthrough.

Big man Kristaps Porzingis led Boston with 32 points and 5 blocks, and he made 6-of-11 from 3-point range (54.5%). He was countered by Houston’s Alperen Sengun, who had 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in the third triple-double of his NBA career. Sengun made 10-of-18 shots (55.6%) and all four of his free throws.

Houston was without Tari Eason (left lower leg injury management), Jabari Smith Jr. (left ankle sprain), Fred VanVleet (lower back tightness), Jeff Green (left calf soreness), and Reggie Bullock (lower back pain). Back-to-back considerations played a role in some of those decisions, according to head coach Ime Udoka.

Given those absences, Houston had its pair of highly drafted rookies — Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore — each make their first NBA start. Thompson played well with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 assists, making 5-of-10 shots (50.0%) and 5-of-6 free throws (83.3%).

For Whitmore, it was a struggle with 5 points and 4 rebounds on 2-of-7 shooting (28.6%), and he went 0-of-2 on free throws when the Rockets were down only three points in the closing minutes.

Dillon Brooks led Houston with 25 points and 4 steals, making 5-of-15 from 3-point range (33.3%), and his defense helped limit Celtics star Jayson Tatum to just 18 points on 4-of-17 shooting (23.5%).

Jalen Green and Aaron Holiday each had 5 assists and 4 rebounds while scoring 16 and 12 points, respectively. Both were stepping into larger-than-usual roles in the absence of VanVleet.

Here’s our look at Sunday’s highlights and postgame interviews from Toyota Center, along with reaction by media members and fans. Now 1-1 on a three-game homestand, Houston wraps it up on Wednesday versus Portland (12-29), with tipoff set for 7:00 p.m. Central.

Jan. 21 Rockets-Celtics reaction

 

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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire