Tatum scores 31, Celtics get first win, 107-97 over Houston
HOUSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum had 31 points and nine rebounds and the Boston Celtics avoided their first 0-3 start since the 2013-14 season with a 107-97 win over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.
Tatum, had 20 points in the first half on 8 of 13 shooting. Al Horford finished with 17 points, including 11 in the third quarter, and 10 rebounds.
Following a 115-83 blowout loss to Toronto on Friday, Tatum said he thought the team responded well.
“I wish we could have cleaned up a couple things,” Tatum said. “I think we gave them too much life at the end when we had that lead. It’s tough to win in this league. Just to get that first one of the season, I hope we can build off it.”
Dennis Schröder, who started for the injured Jaylen Brown, finished with 18 points and Grant Williams added 18 points off the bench. Boston shot 44% from the field and hit 15 of 47 on 3-pointers.
Boston coach Ime Udoka said he received a water shower and was presented with the game ball following his first win as a coach.
“It’s special,” Udoka said. “I told them it was overdue and ‘You guys took too long to get it’. … It’s good to get it, not just for the first, but to kind of get us rolling on the right foot. I think we played the right way tonight, defended how we could after that first quarter.”
Second overall pick Jalen Green had the best game in his young career, scoring 30 points including making 8 of 10 on 3-pointers, setting a new Rockets rookie record for made 3-pointers.
“I’m not trying to force anything,” Green said. “Obviously, I want to win over anything, and if that’s me going to get 30 or 9 or 15 or 20, I will do whatever it takes.”
Christian Wood had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Kevin Porter Jr. added 15 points for Houston, which shot 43% and hit 14 of 32 on 3-pointers.
“He’s talented obviously, and he was putting a lot of pressure on himself to produce and succeed and all of that,” Houston coach Stephen Silas said of Green. “It seems like tonight he didn’t put as much pressure on himself. He just played.”
Boston held a 38-32 advantage in points in the paint and held a 43-40 advantage in rebounds.
After Houston knotted it at 55 on a lay-up by Green two minutes into the third, Boston went on a 10-0 spurt started with four straight points by Horford and capped on a 3-pointer by Tatum.
The Rockets responded with five straight points to cut the lead in half, but Boston responded with a 24-9 run to open the lead to 20 on a three-point play by Horford with 1 ½ minutes left in the third.
“We started getting more stops (in the second half),” Tatum said. “We were more locked in on the defensive end. They made some plays in that first half, hit some shots, but we stuck it, were dialed in and figured it out.”
Celtics: Boston committed 12 turnovers and forced Houston into 20 turnovers, which the Celtics turned into 28 points.
Rockets: Jae’Sean Tate had 12 points and eight rebounds. … Houston’s bench was outscored 31-14.
Brown was out of the lineup with left patella tendinopathy. Brown had led the Celtics in scoring through the first two games, averaging 27.5 points per game. Udoka said Brown’s injury was something he dealt with last season, missing a few games.
“We just want to be cautious with it,” Udoka said. “We have a back-to-back coming up, give him an extra day of rest and hopefully, he will be good to go tomorrow.”
Celtics: Visit Charlotte on Monday.
Rockets: Visit Dallas on Tuesday.