Looking for the difference on defense when Kevin Garnett’s not on the floor for the Celtics? Start with the decibel level.
With Garnett on the floor its sounds like Sgt. Slaughter playing Simon Says. He barks out directions and calls like combat commands.
Last night, as the Celtics were down double-digits in the fourth quarter to the Rocket and trying to keep from drowning in the shower of jump shots, there was no sound. Only a series of Rockets hush shots.
Aaron Brooks drilled a 3-pointer in front of Glen Davis from 25 feet out, splashing to the parquet as it split the rim and put the Rockets up 101-90, and Davis’ reaction –throwing his fists and shaking his head – said everything about the Celtics defense last night.
It had no answer for a Rockets team hadn’t won in weeks, but was still one of the league’s most potent offenses.
There was a stretch in the fourth quarter when the Rockets connected on eight straight possessions – Patrick Patterson from 16 feet, Chase Budinger from 15 feet, Aaron Brooks from 3. In all they made 10 of their 15 fourth quarter shots, outlasting the Celtics 108-102.
Even though Brooks was back in the lineup after spraining his left ankle, Kevin Martin was out but the Rockets (the fifth-highest scoring team in the league coming in) had no problem finding offense. Seven different players (and all five starters) reached double figures, led by Brook’s 24-point night.
The Rockets drilled 10 of their 20 3-pointers, getting a five from Brooks.
Meanwhile the Celtics defense was unresponsive, letting a team shoot 50 percent or better for the third time since Kevin Garnett went down with a sprained right calf.
Adding to the issues, Glen Davis (who took more shots than Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ loss to the Bulls Saturday) took a team high 14 shots, missing eight of them.
Fourth quarter, 18.5, Rockets 106, Celtics 102 Drastically confusing sequence. It seemed like Rondo forced a ridiculous and slightly miraculous 8-second violation out of Aaron Brooks that would have given the Celtics the ball with 18.5 seconds left, but the refs ruled it an inadvertent whistle, keeping possession in Houston's hands.
Fourth quarter, 27.2 seconds, Rockets 106, Celtics 102 From any and all spots on the floor, the Rockets rained hush shots on the Celtics, drilling 10 of their 15 shots this quarter. But the Celtics made it a two-shot game when Paul Pierce drilled a 3-pointer from 25 feet out.
Fourth quarter, 10:56, Rockets 84, Celtics 74 Ray Allen just took a nasty spill in front of the Celtics bencha dn came off the floor at the next dead ball. He's not getting any medical attention. He's showing no signs that he's hurt. Meanwhile, the Celtics are in a double-digit hole, trying no to sink any deeper.
Third quarter, 4:17, Rockets 75, Celtics 70: Aaron Brooks just knocked down the Rockets' eight 3-pointer. He's got three of them alone. This one was a hush shot. The Celtics were trying to rally with a couple of shots from Ray Allen and an alley oop from Rondo to Shaq.They're going to have to string some stops together though. Right now the Rockets have five players in double figures.
Third quarter, 6:31, Rockets 65, Celtics 64 The Rockets have knocked down 6 of their first 10 shots. The Celtics are staying afloat by getting to the free throw line (17 of 19). Paul Pierce just hit a pair to make him 4 for 4 for the night.
Some technical difficulties on the blog. Apologies.
Some first half notes:
*Glen Davis has a game-high nine shots, which has to be eating Doc Rivers up inside after what happened in the fourth quarter in Chicago. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have a combined nine.
*Stating the obvious: The defense struggles something awful without Kevin Garnett in the lineup. The Celtics can put up points -- and the way they're going with the Rockets, they're going to have to put up at least 100 of them -- but the defense can't keep anyone from scoring. Kyle Lowry and Chase Budinger have 11 points apiece for Houston.
*Neither team's protecting the ball. Both teams have turned it over nine times costing them 12 points apiece.
*The Celtics are dominating the pait 24-6, but everything else numbers-wise is pretty even.
First quarter, 2:32, Rockets 19, Celtics 15Remember Courtney Lee? He's got five points off the bench already. The world must look a lot better for a guy when he leave's New Jersey.
First quarter, 6:24, Celtics 13, Rockets 11: Some bad signs -- Jordan Hill has no business trying to guard Shaquille O'Neal. It's like he's being slapped with a sack of cement. Meanwhile, the Rockets look like they could turn this into a shootout.
Pregame: Not sure if it's even, but the Celtics won't have Kevin Garnett tonight and the Rockets will see and, um, raise them by playing without Kevin Martin, who sprained his right wrist sometime between getting to Boston today and dropping 20 points on the Jazz in a loss.