There was no Christmas hangover for the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.
The C’s, without interim coach Joe Mazzulla due to eye irritation, followed up their impressive rout of the Milwaukee Bucks with a 126-102 triumph over the Houston Rockets. It marked Boston’s sixth consecutive win over Houston dating back to 2019.
Celtics Talk POSTGAME POD: The Jays, Robert Williams have big night vs Rockets | Listen & Subscribe
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum carried the Celtics with a combined 77 points. Robert Williams was the only other double-digit scorer for Boston with 11.
Second-year guard Jalen Green led the Rockets with 28 points. Kevin Porter Jr. contributed 22 points to go with nine assists.
Here are our takeaways from the Celtics’ third straight victory. They’ll look to keep the streak going Thursday night when they host the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Jays assert their dominance
This was the Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown show from the opening tip to the final buzzer. The superstar duo accounted for the Celtics’ first 17 points of the game and 22 of their first 24. They continued to carry the load from there.
Brown started off red-hot with 15 points in the first quarter. After a quiet second frame, the 26-year-old erupted with 21 more points in the second half to finish with 39 on 14-of-26 shooting (6-15 3-PT). He has now scored at least 29 points in three consecutive games.
Tatum followed his 41-point outburst vs. the Bucks with a 38-point outing against the Rockets. He was just as efficient as Brown, shooting 12-of-25 from the floor and 6-of-16 from beyond the arc.
The performance marked the three-time All-Star’s sixth straight game with at least 30 points.
It’s the 18th time Brown and Tatum have both scored 30+ points in a game. The Celtics are 17-1 when they accomplish that feat. Had they both scored one more basket, they would’ve become the first C’s teammates ever to each score 40+ points in the same regular-season game, per Celtics.com’s Marc D’Amico.
Robert Williams ready to return to starting lineup
Time Lord was listed as questionable heading into the matchup due to an illness, but he appeared to be at full strength. In fact, this was his best performance since rejoining the team this season.
Williams made his presence felt early and often with seven rebounds in his first six minutes. The Celtics big man dominated the glass throughout, finishing with 15 boards (five offensive) in his 21 minutes off the bench.
He also notched 11 points to notch a double-double, his first since March 27 vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Williams looked like his pre-injury self, which is a terrific sign for the C’s as they look to maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference and make another deep postseason run. Time to get him back into the starting five.
The Celtics have their mojo back
It was getting worrisome for the Celtics prior to their current three-game win streak. Some believed they had their spirit broken by the Golden State Warriors in their NBA Finals rematch defeat earlier this month. They struggled to get back on track after that loss as they dropped four of their next five, including two to the Orlando Magic and one to the Indiana Pacers.
Judging by these last three games, the C’s have regained their confidence and are back to being the best team in the NBA.
Sure, it was against the last-place Rockets, but Boston showed what it’s capable of when the best duo in the league is on its game. And rather than faltering against a lesser opponent after their encouraging Christmas Day win, the C’s rose to the occasion with another blowout. That’s what separates these Celtics from last year’s group.
The most encouraging sign: The offense that dominated the first quarter of the season is back. Boston has scored 120+ points in all three games during its current win streak.
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Update on Youtube Celtics highlights from 2022, C's make a wild run to NBA Finals, Jays prove they can play together
A year in review: Chris Forsberg and Amina Smith look back at some of the most memorable moments for the Celtics in 2022. From a fuse being lit in January with Jayson Tatum's 51 point-game vs. the Wizards, to Al Horford's career-night vs. Giannis and the Bucks.
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