The Celtics got 60 or more points from their bench zero times in the 59 games before the All-Star break, but the second unit has hit that mark three times in the five contests since the break. 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.
Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, but it was CJ McCollum's 28 points and eight rebounds which led the Trail Blazers to a 108-100 win over Oklahoma City Thunder. And they just so happen to be riding a 14-game winning streak of their own.
"We played really hard (against Houston) and we're clearly getting better", Stevens said Saturday, according to the Globe.
Ball extended the lead to 109-107 at 1:15 but the Spurs fought back with two free throws from Paul Gasol before Ball claimed his final three-pointer of the night to secure the victory. Olajuwon won his only MVP award that season while leading the Rockets to a 58-24 and the first of two straight National Basketball Association championships. And the Celtics shot an impressive 54 percent from the field and 62 percent from three in the first-half. With the fact that James Harden became the first player ever to record the 60-point triple-double this year, and an absurd 31.2 points and 8.9 assists average per game he is now in the top spot in the race for the 2018 MVP award.
If you'd like to see some more mind-blowing wizardry off the dribble, check out Kyrie Irving's collection of best plays.
In Miami, Kelly Olynyk and Josh Richardson each scored 17 points, and the Heat enhanced their playoff hopes with a win over Detroit. In their first matchup, the Rockets got up big - 26 to be exact - but the Celtics fought back with their defense.
Ball control wasn't an issue again for the C's until the final stretch, when they committed four costly turnovers, while missing some untimely shots.
Three of the teams top four scorers in this one came off the bench, and the fourth was the most important defensive player in the game. The newly-added veteran big man had his second consecutive solid outing for the Celtics Saturday night, as he played his heart out during a hard-fought, 123-120 loss to the Houston Rockets.
Brad Stevens changed things up a bit by only going four deep, but all four of Greg Monroe, Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier delivered in a special way. During his first six games with the C's, he scored a total of 34 points on 12-of-29 shooting, while producing a cumulative minus-24 rating. Harden scored 26 but struggled from the floor, shooting 6-of-18 overall and 3-of-12 from long range. The Rockets are now the hottest team in the league but the Celtics haven't been too bad either. Nikola Vucevic also scored 19 for Orlando, which had six players in double figures. Ariza added 21, and Paul had 15.
The game was close throughout, but it came down to a number of tough plays at the end of the game. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub.