Houston's twin terrors halt Boston's streak

Boston's Jaylen Brown blocking Houston's Russell Westbrook at the basket. It was a rare rejection, with Westbrook running riot with 36 points in Houston's 116-105 NBA victory. PHOTO: REUTERS
Boston's Jaylen Brown blocking Houston's Russell Westbrook at the basket. It was a rare rejection, with Westbrook running riot with 36 points in Houston's 116-105 NBA victory. PHOTO: REUTERS

HOUSTON • Be afraid, be very afraid. That was the message from James Harden on Tuesday night, after he and Russell Westbrook combined for 78 points as the Houston Rockets snapped the Boston Celtics' seven-game winning streak with a 116-105 victory.

Harden produced 42 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while Westbrook chipped in 36 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

Asked by ESPN after the National Basketball Association (NBA) game how dangerous their combination can be, Harden simply said: "It's pretty scary."

The Rockets, who improved to 34-20 in the Western Conference, played without a true centre at Houston's Toyota Centre after trading Clint Capela to Atlanta last week.

But coach Mike D'Antoni believes that this has boosted both guards Harden and Westbrook.

"It's helping both of them," he said. "It should. It opens up the floor for them. Both of them are great drivers and great finishers... and it should trickle down to everybody else, too."

Westbrook, in his first season in Houston after a trade from Oklahoma City, is excited about the possibilities of this line-up once they have more experience with it.

"We can be pretty successful," he said. "We've just got to find ways to continue to be effective, efficient and make the right plays."

Harden scored 31 points in the second half, including 19 in succession for Houston in the third quarter en route to his 19th 40-point game of the season.

With the Rockets clinging to a 96-94 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Harden and Westbrook sparked a 17-4 run.

Harden scored six free throws during that stretch and teamed up with Westbrook to finish 27-31 from the free-throw line.

Gordon Hayward led Boston with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists, with Jaylen Brown chipping in 19 points despite battling bothersome ankles.

  • 78

    Combined points racked up by Houston's Russell Westbrook and James Harden in their win over Boston.

Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum combined for 29 points on 10-of-32 shooting. The duo finished one of 13 from three-point range.

Danuel House Jr, who sank a corner three-pointer and a lay-up during the Rockets' late surge, contributed 17 points and nine boards while Robert Covington put up 12 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and three steals.

Despite all his starters finishing in double figures, Celtics coach Brad Stevens conceded defeat to Harden and Westbrook.

He added: "Those guys are two of the best in the world and they showed it again tonight."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 13, 2020, with the headline 'Houston's twin terrors halt Boston's streak'. Print Edition | Subscribe