BOSTON - Comfort zones were nowhere to be found for the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets in their battle at TD Garden on Tuesday night, but the C's found some extra energy and survived a close game in overtime, 97-92, to capture their fourth straight win.
"It was definitely a strange game," said Celtics captain Paul Pierce, who reached double digits in scoring for the 10th straight game, finishing with a team-high 30 points and six rebounds. "It was about our wills. One team wanted it one quarter, another team wanted it [another]. It was kind of like a seesaw battle. We make a run, they make a run, we make a run, they make a run. Nobody could really just put the other team away."
Ray Allen poured in 21 points and Rajon Rondo came just short of another double-double, contributing nine points, 12 assists and three rebounds. Kevin Garnett had 13 points and 13 boards, which moved him into 12th all-time on the NBA's rebounding list (Garnett now has 13,100 career rebounds). Greg Stiemsma scored eight off the bench for Boston.
"That was a crazy game. It really was," Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said. "The whole game - it wasn't even just the ending. I mean there was just some strange things going on tonight. We give up 28 points in the first quarter, hold them to 12 in the second. We give up 28 points in the third quarter, hold them to 16 in the fourth."
Luis Scola scored 18 and had 14 rebounds and Kyle Lowry added 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as Houston shot 38.6 percent. Kevin Martin, the Rockets' leading scorer entering the game, had 11 points and Goran Dragic added 11 points. Samuel Dalembert, who fouled out in the final minute of OT, had 11 points and 17 boards.
The Celtics fell behind by seven after one quarter, 28-21, as the Rockets shot a sizzling 63 percent in the game's opening quarter compared to Boston's 40 percent shooting. That deficit would be erased in the second, though, as Boston outscored the opposition 25-12 on 57.9 percent shooting. Allen, who was scoreless in the first, had seven points to help the C's build their lead to six, 46-40, heading into halftime.
Boston couldn't sustain the tempo in the third quarter and was clearly content with its lead, letting the Rockets back into the game and allowing them to grab a 68-63 lead heading into the fourth. The Celtics' valiant effort, led by a surge from Allen, gave them an 84-82 lead with 35 seconds remaining.
After a missed floater by Scola, Pierce grabbed the rebound and fired the ball to a wide open Rondo with less than 18 seconds left, but Rondo lost the handle and missed the layup. Dragic made the C's pay for their mistake, making a long two from the corner to tie the game at 84. Allen missed a leaner as time expired, resulting in overtime.
Garnett's jumper and a three-point play from Paul Pierce put the Celtics up 91-86 with nearly three and a half minutes remaining, but Houston scored our straight to make it a one-point game once again. Lowry scored four straight in between two free throws from Pierce to make it a 93-92 game. Pierce's layup at 1:15 and two free throws from Allen gave Boston all the room it needed to capture the win.
"It was a no-energy game," Rivers said. "You can feel it. I even said at halftime, 'Even the building had no energy.' It's just one of those nights."
Boston won't have any time to rest, as the Celts face the Atlantic Division leading Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA on Wednesday night.