Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIJanuary 11, 2013

Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics: Postgame Grades and Analysis

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    Led by Jared Sullinger's 14 points and 11 rebounds, the Boston Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets by a score of 103-91.

    Paul Pierce carried the scoring load for the Celtics with 23 points, while Kevin Garnett added 17 points. As for Houston, James Harden scored a game-high 24 points.

    Unfortunately, Houston was unable to muster up any other form of offensive consistency.

    The Rockets fell to 21-16. They've lost two games in a row after winning five consecutive before this current stretch.

    As for Boston, it's now 19-17 and in the midst of a five-game winning streak. So, how did this fifth win go down?

Point Guards

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    Rajon Rondo, Celtics: B-

    Much like Jeremy Lin, Rajon Rondo didn't perform at a level that will shock or awe an individual.

    What Rondo managed to do, however, was have a positive impact on a victory.

    Twelve points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals suggest such. His four turnovers are reflected in a plus-minus of positive-5.

    Shooting 5-of-13, however, is always going to hurt.

    Rondo struggled from mid-range and failed to display his usual burst off of the dribble. He defended Lin's penetration skills relatively well, though, which mattered most in the end.

    By his standards, Rondo played a poor game. By average-point-guard standards, however, Rondo played well.

     

    Jeremy Lin, Rockets: B

    Jeremy Lin may not have blown anyone away, but his evening defined the term "solid."

    Lin finished the game with 12 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals. Perhaps most impressive of all, he didn't commit a single turnover.

    Minus the latter, this is becoming a typical stat line from Lin. One that people would be crazy to reject.

    So, how did it all happen?

    From a scoring perspective, Lin was relatively quiet. When given the opportunity to score, however, he took advantage of the chance at hand.

    Coming off of a screen, Lin drew Jared Sullinger off of a Boston rotation. This allowed the third-year point guard to catch Sullinger off balance with his dribble and rise up for a smooth jump shot.

    Just one minute later, Lin spotted up and drained a 25-foot three-pointer.

    It wasn't his best outing, but Lin was impressive. From packing a stat sheet to limiting Rajon Rondo to an average outing, Lin earned himself a solid mark.

    A well-rounded evening.

Shooting Guards

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    Avery Bradley, Celtics: C+

    Avery Bradley may not have produced at a high level, but he was excellent from a pure basketball perspective.

    Bradley pressed up on Harden at all the right times. In turn, he forced Harden into 4-of-12 shooting on jump shots.

    Unfortunately, Bradley wasn't much better himself. He went 2-of-9 from the floor and just 2-of-6 from beyond the arc.

    As Celtics fans have come to expect, however, Bradley's contributions are found in more than just statistics.

    It's scarce that defenders are able to make Harden pick up his dribble. Bradley did just that on a consistent basis.

    So much so that the Rockets could never get their offense going.

     

    James Harden, Rockets: B-

    James Harden shot 9-of-19 overall and 4-of-12 outside the paint.

    In other words, The Bearded One scored at a relatively consistent rate. Due to the fact that he struggled from mid-range, however, Harden failed to get the offense going as expected.

    Thus neutralizing a 24-point, five-assist outing.

    Furthermore, Harden shot just 2-of-8 from beyond the arc and 4-of-7 from the charity stripe. For that reason, it is fair to say that his 24 points weren't as dazzling as one might expect.

    His six turnovers certainly didn't help.

    Unfortunately, Harden finished one point short of his 15th consecutive game with at least 25 points.

Small Forwards

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    Paul Pierce, Celtics: A-

    Paul Pierce was phenomenal.

    The Truth finished the game with a team-high 23 points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal. He also converted three three-pointers.

    Eleven of those points came during a third quarter in which the Celtics increased their lead to 12.

    Pierce also had one of his better defensive performances on the season, pressing Chandler Parsons early and often. This forced Parsons into both picking up and establishing his dribble.

    The former Florida Gator struggled in both capacities. Pierce was the reason why.

    Pierce's plus-minus of positive-4 doesn't hurt too much, either.

     

    Chandler Parsons, Rockets: B

    From a statistical standpoint, Chandler Parsons played a very nice game.

    Parsons finished 7-of-12 from the floor for 18 points. He also converted two three-point field-goal attempts and turned the ball over just once.

    Unfortunately, that was the end of his day.

    Just as Parsons began to get going, Paul Pierce forced him to pick up his dribble and end his individual momentum. As soon as Parsons was forced to put his dribble down, he found himself caught in corners.

    This led to the Rockets losing their most consistent scorer on the evening due to an inability to split defensive pressure.

    Furthermore, Parsons displayed a one-track mentality. He failed to get back in transition during the second half, thus leading to Pierce scoring at will.

    It's a two-way effort for a higher grade than this.

Power Forwards

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    Brandon Bass, Celtics: D+

    If you didn't notice Brandon Bass was playing, you're not alone.

    Bass was hit with a ridiculous foul while posting up Marcus Morris. After that point, Bass failed to do anything at all.

    Four points and three rebounds in 27 minutes proves that.

    Bass was the only Boston starter with a negative plus-minus. That was all the way down at negative-8, which proved one important truth.

    Bass was the lone starter to fail to contribute positively.

     

    Marcus Morris, Rockets: C-

    Despite starting at power forward, Marcus Morris played just 18 minutes.

    In that time, he scored five points and grabbed four rebounds. Morris also dished out an assist and notched a steal.

    Much like Brandon Bass, Morris did virtually nothing. Then again, what could he do in just 18 minutes?

Centers

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    Kevin Garnett, Celtics: A

    Kevin Garnett is a prime contender for "Player of the Game" after his work against the Houston Rockets.

    KG shot 8-of-12 from the field and finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. He also blocked four shots and posted a game-high plus-minus of positive-17.

    Eleven fourth-quarter points don't hurt to enhance this outing.

    KG displayed his signature mid-range prowess, taking two steps inwards and draining jumpers off back rim all night. This pulled the flat-footed Omer Asik out of position and eliminated his defensive prowess.

    In other words, Garnett was just being Garnett.

    What may have been most impressive about Garnett's outing was his ability to draw Asik out and allow Jared Sullinger to work the interior. This enabled Boston to control the offensive glass early.

    Garnett's masterful performance displays how statistics don't tell all. Even when they are impressive.

     

    Omer Asik, Rockets: B

    Omer Asik is one of the most physically imposing players in the league. Not just for his powerful presence, but the fact that his reckless abandon leads to rebounding opportunities.

    Such was evident against the Celtics, as Asik worked his way to 11 rebounds and four offensive boards.

    The telling moment for Asik came against Jared Sullinger.

    Sullinger achieved excellent position on Asik, but the Turkish big man's workhorse persona led to his escaping the box-out. This enabled Asik to get into Sullinger's head at times, thus working the glass against him and others.

    Unfortunately, Asik failed to contribute offensively as Houston may have hoped.

Sixth Man

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    Jared Sullinger, Celtics: A

    Coming off of a game in which he posted 12 points and 16 rebounds, Jared Sullinger had a tough act to follow.

    Follow, he did.

    Sullinger finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 27 minutes. Five of those boards came on the offensive glass, thus leading to Sullinger shooting 7-of-8 from the floor.

    When you work as hard as Sullinger, the shots come easy.

    Sullinger had moments where tip-ins led to points, but his most promising moments came out of the post. For instance, the bank-shot fadeaway that Sullinger sank during the second quarter.

    Although he fouled out, Sullinger also posted a plus-minus of positive-7. Impressive doesn't do this performance justice.

    Sullinger was the player of the game.

     

    Carlos Delfino, Rockets: C-

    Carlos Delfino turned the ball over at key moments, failed to establish consistency with his jump shot and rarely worked the three-point line with efficiency.

    By rarely, of course, I mean to say that he hit just one three-point field goal. He attempted seven.

    I repeat, Delfino shot just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc.

    On an evening in which the Rockets scored just 91 points, Delfino picked a bad night to go cold offensively. He also picked a bad night to post a plus-minus of negative-8.

    In case you're confused, it was a bad night for Delfino.

Reserves

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    Boston Celtics: A

    What an evening for this Boston bench.

    The Celtics' reserves finished with 40 points, 19 rebounds, 10 assists, four steals and a block. They also converted four three-point field goals.

    That's what you call a success.

    The signature moment for the Boston reserves came as Carlos Delfino dribbled off of his shoe and Jason Terry hit the ground to save it from going out of bounds.

    This enabled Jeff Green to pick it up, hit Courtney Lee and create an easy finish.

    Teamwork.

    Minutes later, the bench was at it again.

    The Celtics jumped out in transition, but an errant pass led to a loose ball. Green fell onto his back, stretched his entire body with his legs split and tapped it to a teammate.

    This led to a beautiful rotation and an open three for Jason Terry.

    It was all this all night for Boston's second unit. An excellent performance that may have just been the breakthrough this team had been looking for.

     

    Houston Rockets: F

    For all the praise we offer the Boston Celtics, the opposite can be said for the Houston Rockets.

    Houston's reserves combined for 25 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and three steals. They also shot just 10-of-29 from the floor and 3-of-15 from beyond the arc.

    An average plus-minus of negative-4.3 rounds this one out for a terrible bench performance.