Final: Celtics 94-87:
A quality win for the Celtics as they lead from nearly wire-to-wire and get a stellar rebounding effort (Houston shot 39.5 percent) and the Celtics even won the rebounding battle (43-42). Paul Pierce scored 15 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter.
47.2 Celtics 94-87:
Paul Pierce just converted a layup off a cut to the basket and the Celtics are a stop away from sealing this one after Houston went on an 8-0 run to make it interesting.
2:31 Celtics 92-81:
Kevin Garnett has canned consecutive jumpers and the Celtics are closer to getting a key win to begin a three-game road trip. Garnett has 15 points while Glen Davis has seven points and seven rebounds off the bench. And Rasheed Wallace is one rebound from posting his first double-digit rebounding game since pagers were fashionable.
4:51 Celtics 88-77:
Paul Pierce is the truth tonight, hitting back-to-back baskets as the Celtics are trying to pull away and stave Houston the numerous Houston runs. Pierce has 24 points, despite four fouls and the Celtics are playing stellar defense. Houston is shooting 38 percent.
9:35 Celtics 73-68: Boston trying to hold on but Kevin Martin is hitting jumpers and the Rockets have more energy. Ray Allen has 19 points on 5-for-7 from the 3-point line while Martin has 17 for Houston.
End of quarter: Sparked by Kevin Martin the Rockets made their strongest surge of the night, at one point tying it at 52, but they're still shooting sub-40 percent. Ray Allen matched Martin shot for shot, and Nate Robinson went back and forth with Aaron Brooks and the Celtics stretched the lead back to 10.
1:22 Celtics 70-62: If seeing's believing, Nate Robinson and Aaron Brooks just took a jump ball and Brooks, listed at 6-feet, didn't look that much larger.
2:43 Celtics 65-62: Slight side note. The Celtics have four blocks, Kendrick Perkins, getting back to his roots, has two of them. Back to your regularly scheduled program, where Trevor Ariza just made SportsCenter with a disgusting two-hand dunk on the break.
5:01 Celtics 60-57:
OK, so Kevin Martin's the Shredder right now. 5 of 8 (4 for 4 in the quarter with a pair of free throws). He's giving Doc a headache, and Ray Allen motivation.
8:29 Celtics 52-49: Kevin Martin's shredding through the Celtics, eating into their lead single handedly. But that That Martin (7 points) for Ray Allen (13 points) deal doesn't look as tempting as it did at the deadline does it?
9:59 Celtics 50-42: Not quite sure what to make of this, but as the always astute Mark Murphy the Celtics have more wins on the road (22) than at home (21)
End of Quarter 50-41: Rondo stripped Brooks at the at the arc with time winding down, he had a good look at a last-second heave, but bounced it off the top of the backboard.
1:31 Celtics 50-39: For all of Houston's pushes this quarter, the Celtics are in complete control, holding Houston to 33.3 percent shooting, stopping any long runs.
3:11 Celtics 44-39: The Rockets are eating at the lead the bench built. A Brooks drive baseline just set Scola up perfectly for an easy lay-up that wound up a three-point play.
3:23 Celtics 44-36: Starting five's back on the floor. They've outscored the Rockets starters 28-24.
6:07 Celtics 40-28: The Celtics stretch the lead to double-digits on a Rasheed Wallace 3-ball. He's playing well, getting buckets on the block and from distance going for 7 points. The second unit's on a 12-4 run.
11:25 Celtics 30-24: The second unit starts the quarter as a whole (Davis, Finley, Daniels, Wallace, Robinson). They got some work in this morning at shootaround, albeit with no defense. Rasheed Wallace knocked down his first shot of the night.
End of quarter Celtics 28-24: Luis Scola (10 points, five rebounds) is a problem. Glen Davis (4 points, 1 rebound, four minutes) looks like a solution. Or at least a band-aid. The Celtics are shooting 50 percent. Houston's shooting 42.1 percent.
26.0 Celtics 28-23: Ray Allen just took Kevin Martin from one corner to the other draining 3s from both. He's got a team-high 8.
5:32 Celtics 14-13: The Cs score 8 unanswered capped by a KG jumper from the foul line. Some nice ball movement got lay-ups for Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Kendrick Perkins. Points in pain even at 8.
8:05 Rockets 13-6: Houston's got buckets from four different players with Luis Scola going at KG hard early on.
HOW CLOSE WAS IT
The rumor around the trade deadline was that the Cetlics were ready to send Ray Allen to Sacramento for Kevin Martin and Andres Nocioni. Of course, Ray Allen stayed put (and his shooting hand's on ever since) and Martin was dealt to Houston.
"We were in the talks just like everyone else," Rivers said of Martin, who played just 22 games in Sacramento because of injury.
"Some of the things I read, it was never as close as it sounded. Put it like this. Danny and I had one conversation about it. So it wasn't as deep as people thought it was."
Asked what he's seen out of Martin, Rivers said the 22.9 points in 13 games in Houston sticks out.
"A lot of offense," Rivers said. "He can score. He's a great scorer. He was a great scorer in Sacramento. I think he fits Rick's system perfect, too. A lot of cuts, a lot of movement off the elbow. I think he's just a perfect fit for him."
RONDO V. BROOKS
When you look at them, it's hard not to compare. Aaron Brooks is 6 feet. Rajon Rondo's 6-feet-1-inch. Brooks was taken with the 26th pick in the 2007. Rondo was the 21st pick in 2006. Brooks can get to the paint whenever he wants. So can Rondo. Brooks broke out in last year's playoffs. So did Rondo.
The obvious difference is Brooks' shooting, but when he looked at them, Doc Rivers said, they're actually different types of players.
Theyíre so different as players. Brooks is more of a scoring point guard and then Rondo is more of a setup point guard. Both of them just have an amazing speed, similar bodies, and then the only other comparison is that theyíre both very tough-minded guys. I think thatís what allows them to be so good.
WELCOME TO TOYOTA CENTER
... where somebody just upped the difficulty level a notch.
The Celtics crushed New York and Detroit out of the gym in the Garden. Add to that the beating they put on the Pacers and that makes three straight blowouts at home.
Obviously, hiding in there is a loss at Cleveland where the Celtics wen on a scoring drought that started with 2:05 in the third quarter and didn't end until almost midway through the fourth.
Now, the Celtics have to run through some of the league's toughest teams, playing 12 possible playoff contenders, who've only lost one game this month.
"Itís not all bad," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Weíre getting a team on the road thatís playing at their best. I donít think thatís bad for us."
There's obviously the matter of Aaron Brooks to deal with. He's dropped 31 points in each of the past two games, setting a team record two nights ago against Memphis by going 7 for 7 from 3-point range.
Essentially, Brooks is a sharp-shooting Rajon Rondo. As far as how the Celtics will deal with him, Rivers said:
We donít change. We play our defense and our defense is guarding the three-point line.
Brooks doesnít change much for us. Heís a great three-points shooter. But he also is a great penetrator too. I would say usually he wants the shot over the drive. Weíre going to play him the same and hopefully that means him not getting 3s.