Say what you want about the NBA referees, you can't blame them when you give up a 26-point lead. The Rockets were on pace to blow out Boston, starting with a 12-0 run in the 1st quarter, and then leading by 24 at halftime. Houston also scored first in the 3rd so they had a 26-point lead early in the quarter, but the Celtics would then outscore Houston 61-36 in the 2nd half.
There was a lot that the Rockets did wrong, so it's hard to pinpoint one thing that caused this loss. Instead, here's a recap of the final plays of the game.
The Celtics were within two points with 20 seconds left, but Kyrie Irving fell down during a fast break and lost the ball. P.J. Tucker picked it up and Irving fouled him. Tucker missed one of his two free throws, giving the Rockets a 3-point lead with 18 seconds remaining. Marcus Smart then hit a quick layup to bring the Celtics within one with 13 seconds to go. Trevor Ariza had to call two timeouts in a row because he couldn't find an open teammate to inbound the ball to. On his 3rd try, Ariza inbounded the ball to Harden who was fouled, and he made both free throws. Jayson Tatum dunked the ball with 7 seconds remaining to get the Celtics back within one. Then, Harden was called for an offensive foul for pushing off Marcus Smart while trying to get open for an inbound pass so, Celtics ball. Al Horford posted up on Black and scored in the paint, giving the Celtics their first lead of the game with 3 seconds to go. The Rockets were out of timeouts meaning they had to go the full length of the court, and once again, Harden was called for an offensive foul on Smart. Horford shot the free throws, missing both, including the second on on purpose. Eric Gordon got the rebound with one second left and hurled it down the court, but it was a desperate attempt at best. The Celtics beat the Rockets 99-98.
The Rockets were just a different team in the second half, hitting just 25% of their shots. Most of that was on James Harden and Eric Gordon who combined for 58 points, but shot 16-for-50.
Gerald Green was signed by Houston earlier in the day, and ended up playing 11 minutes, shot 0-3, and grabbed one board.
The Rockets play again Friday night in Washington to try to break a 4-game losing streak.