The Celtics squandered any goodwill engendered by Wednesday night's impressive win over Indiana with one of their worst efforts of the season on Friday night in Houston.
The Rockets obliterated Boston, hammering the C's in every facet of the game to the tune of a 93-77 final score. The Celtics, who made this one look far closer than it actually was in extended garbage time, led by one halfway through the first quarter before being blown out by the streaking Rockets, who led by as many as 29 in the third quarter.
Houston's starting guard combo of Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin dominated the Celts back court, posting 45 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. By comparison, the Celtics entire starting lineup scored 38 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and had 13 assists.
The Rockets, who have now won three straight, put this one out of reach in the second quarter, outscoring the C's 34-18 and staying two steps ahead of the Celts defense, which was never a factor. Houston shot over 50 percent for the first three quarters before dipping a bit in the later stages.
Chuck Hayes, who stands just 6'6", and rookie forward Patrick Paterson ruled the paint. Hayes had 11 points and 11 rebounds as well as a handful of hustle plays that exemplified the Rockets effort level being well above the Celtics all night. And Paterson threw in 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
Jeff Green dropped in 17 points and Glen Davis added 16 to go with seven rebounds for the Celtics, who were weak on offense. They shot 41 percent from the floor, making just one of 10 three-point attempts. Their 77 total points was a season low for against the Rockets. Paul Pierce was 2-of-10 from the floor while Rajon Rondo finished only 2-of-11.
The Celtics have now lost four of their last six games and missed a chance to retake the first overall spot in the Eastern Conference with the loss. They will have to forget this one fast, with the second game of a back-to-back set scheduled for Saturday night in New Orleans against the Hornets.