Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Red-hot Rockets win 15th straight

Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart relishes chances to defend James Harden Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart relishes chances to defend James Harden
Sidney Guerrero | 05 March, 2018, 01:45

That's why they have the best record in the western conference right now. Not even the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics led by three entering the fourth and were up by the same margin early in the quarter before Houston used a 6-2 run to take a 96-95 lead with about 9 1/2 minutes left. However, their teammates were more than happy to pick up the slack.

As the players had all said leading into this one, this wasn't a playoff game. But at this point, it's pretty safe to say which Rockets team will. But defense was the deciding factor in this one.

Houston's win streak is its longest since the Hakeem Olajuwan-led team won the first 15 games of the 1993-94 season. All three are averaging 10-plus points in the five games since the break. With 2.8 seconds left, Irving missed on objective again, but he didn't hit the rim to turn the ball over.

Ball's fourth 3-pointer cut San Antonio's lead to 105-104, and Randle made two free throws to give Los Angeles its first lead at 106-105 with 1:59 remaining. Marcus Smart drew two offensive fouls on James Harden in the final seconds to help the Celtics get the come-from-behind victory. He made both to put the Rockets up by four 119-115. Irving made a layup seconds later, but Harden made one of two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to make it 120-117.

Marcus Smart's desperation three-pointer at the buzzer - after hauling in a full-court pass, turning and firing in about two seconds - stunningly drew iron but did not fall.

Fournier and Nikola Vucevic scored 19 points apiece for the Magic, who won for the second straight night at home after snapping a seven-game losing streak Friday. "Tonight definitely proved to us that we can win in that style of basketball, a grind-it-out type of game".

Eric Gordon led all scorers with 29 points, he connected on 7-of-11 attempts from beyond the arc.

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Russell Westbrook totaled 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and Paul George added 21 points for the Thunder, who lost for the eighth straight time at Moda Center.

Much like Houston's star players, the Celtics stars didn't have great nights either Kyrie Irving and Al Horford combined to go 10-29 from the field and 2-8 from three-point range.

Along with Irving, Brown and Tatum are combining for over 27 points per game, followed by Horford with almost 13, Marcus Morris with 12, and both Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart averaging just over 10 respectively. It's also scored 50-plus points in four of those five games. We just wanted to compete at a high level.

And speaking of three-pointers, they were certainly expected to come at a huge clip between these two teams, and they sure did. The Celtics lost some ground on the Raptors and are 1.5 games behind now, so this should be a tight race for the 1.5 months. But they still have a seven-game lead on the Cleveland Cavaliers for the No. 2 spot.

"Defensively we are very equipped to get stops", Trevor Ariza said.

Those numbers will be put to the test Saturday night as the Celtics travel to Houston to face a Rockets team that is riding a 14-game winning streak.

CJ McCollum scored 28 points and Damian Lillard had 20 as the Portland Trail Blazers won their sixth straight game with a 108-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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