Seeing green: Three takeaways from Tuesday’s 126-102 loss to the Celtics

Dec 27, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) reacts during the first half against the Houston Rockets at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Seeing green: Three takeaways from Tuesday’s 126-102 loss to the Celtics

Jalen Green’s 28 points weren’t enough as the Rockets came up short on the second night of a back-to-back, losing to the Celtics 126-102. Green scored 18 points in the third quarter, but the Rockets couldn’t contain Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who combined to score 77 points on 51 shots.

Another strong game from Kevin Porter Jr.

Porter didn’t match the 36 points he put up in Chicago on Monday night, but he did score 19 against much tougher competition while dishing out nine assists. Porter didn’t shoot the ball as well as he did against the Bulls, which is to be expected on the second night of a back-to-back, but he played downhill and managed to attempt five free throws and scored or assisted on 21 of the Rockets’ 28 second-quarter points.

Just as important as the points and assists, Porter did not commit a turnover, giving him 22 assists and four turnovers over his last three games.

Celtics neutralize Alperen Sengun

Sengun was held scoreless on Tuesday night, 24 hours after he lit up the Bulls for 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Knowing the Rockets like to run a lot of pick and roll, the Celtics often started possessions with Marcus Smart guarding the Rockets’ center, so they could simply switch that action. Sengun tried to counter by posting up the Celtics guard, but the Rockets couldn’t take advantage of the size mismatch in large part due to Smart’s physicality and the officials allowing him to get away with it.

While he didn’t score against the Celtics, Sengun found a way to impact the game on the glass, coming down with nine rebounds, including four on the offensive end.

Jaylen Brown would be a perfect fit

The Rockets could have around $60 million in cap space this summer, but they can roll it over to the summer of 2024, which is slated to be a much stronger free-agent class, and Brown is at the top of the list. The 26-year-old scored 15 points in the first quarter on Tuesday and finished the game with 39 on 14-of-26 shooting. He entered the night averaging 26.6 points per game on 49% shooting while playing high-level defense.

It’s hard to imagine Brown leaving a great Celtics team that can offer him more than anyone else, but he might be tired of seeing his name pop up in trade rumors every year, including this summer, after an NBA Finals appearance when Kevin Durant asked for a trade out of Brooklyn.

As far-fetched as it sounds, Brown would fit perfectly with what the Rockets already have, giving them the leadership and big-game experience they currently lack.

Next up

The Rockets will close out their three-game road trip on Thursday when they take on Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks for the second time in the last week.

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