HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- The Rockets matched the second longest win streak in franchise history, winning their 15th game in a row Saturday night, in a 123-120 thriller over the Boston Celtics at Toyota Center.
In a game that featured nine ties and 12 lead changes, the Rockets had to dodge a Marcus Smart fallaway prayer from the left corner at the buzzer to improve to 49-13 on the season.
Despite all the lead changes, Houston trailed for much of the night, and when Terry Rozier canned a 3-pointer with 4:01 to play, the deficit was at six, and it should’ve been more, but Kyrie Irving’s reverse layup 57 seconds later rimmed out, and the Rockets took advantage.
P.J. Tucker drained a three to cut the lead in a half, and after Smart missed a 13-footer, James Harden’s layup made it a 1-point game. Al Horford answered with a hook shot, but after Harden missed a triple, Tucker stole the rebound from Rozier, and Chris Paul found Trevor Ariza for a game-tying trey. 14 seconds later, Ariza stole a pass from Irving and took in himself for a finger roll to give the Rockets a lead they’d never relinquish.
Harden led the Rockets with 26 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals. He shot just 6-of-18 from the field, 3-of-12 from behind the 3-point line, but knocked down 11-of-13 free throws.
Eric Gordon led all scorers with 29 points, he connected on 7-of-11 attempts from beyond the arc.
Ariza gave the Rockets 21 points, while Clint Capela pulled down 17 rebounds as the Rockets improve to 49-13, a game up on the Golden State Warriors in the loss column for the best record in the NBA.
With the lead having already switched hands four times in the game’s first five minutes, Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer to put the Rockets back on top 14-13, starting a 16-7 run that put the Rockets up 30-22, but Boston scored the final 10 points of the quarter, and scored the first four points of the second.
The Celtics built their lead as high as nine thanks to Greg Monroe’s hook shot with 8:29 left before halftime, but the Rockets scored the next six points, and James Harden tied the game at 50 with a 3-pointer, only to see the Celtics take a 64-58 lead into halftime.
Boston grew the lead to eight twice after halftime, but the Rockets regained the lead on a Luc Mbah a Moute free throw with 4:37 left in the third quarter, but the Celtics scored the final six points of the period to take a 3-point lead into the fourth.
Former Rocket Marcus Morris led the Celtics in scoring with 21 points, while Irving and Greg Monroe chipped in 18. The loss drops the Celtics to 44-20, three games behind the Toronto Raptors in the loss column for the best record in the East.
The Rockets 15-game win streak matches the run the team started the 1993-94 season with, still seven games shy of the franchise record set 10 years ago. The team will go for a 16th straight Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.