The Houston Rockets made if five wins in a row, beating the Boston Celtics 115-104 at TD Garden, behind another big night from James Harden.
Harden poured in 42 points, seven rebounds and four assists, on 14-of-31 shooting from the field, while Eric Gordon added 32 points, knocking down eight three-pointers from 12 attempts. Chris Paul added 15 points and 12 assists on the night.
After trailing by as many as 28 points, the Celtics mounted a fourth-quarter comeback led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, opening the period on a 17-6 run to cut the deficit to 10 points with 6:08 remaining.
With the scores at 109-100, Nene pulled down an offensive rebound off a Gordon miss, leaving Harden to suck the energy out of the home crowd, with this dagger three over Kyrie Irving and Tatum.
Unreal shot by @JHarden13! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/FedDtkuksx- Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) March 3, 2019
Soon after, Harden was fouled out of the game picking up an offensive foul, with his team leading 112-104.
The Celtics made life hard for themselves from the jump, turning the ball over five times in the opening five minutes of the game, allowing Houston to build an early 10-point lead after the first quarter.
It didn't get much better in the second as Harden and Gordon began to heat up, with the duo combining for 43 points in the first half on 7-of-14 from three, matching the entire Celtics production for the half.
While the Rockets were red-hot from deep, Boston managed to shoot just 1-of-13 from deep, with their defensive struggles giving Houston multiple breaks.
Boston came to life in the third quarter as their threes began to drop, using an 11-3 run to cut the lead down to 17 points, before Paul and Harden checked back into the game to steady the ship.
Despite their efforts, Boston finished the quarter tied at 35-35, with their offensive production failing to make up for their defensive lapses.
While the Celtics will take some pride in their late rally, coach Brad Stevens said post-game that they have to be better out of the gates.
"We haven't shot it great in the last few games, but I think that's all connected when you don't play well for 30 minutes," Stevens said. "A lot of these games I sit back and say we've got to execute better to score, so we don't bleed so much on runs."
Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Al Horford added 19 points, Marcus Smart 18, while Jaylen Brown added 15 off the bench.
Aussie big man Aron Baynes returned to the floor after missing the past 11 games with a left foot contusion, recording four points and four rebounds in 12 minutes of action.
Boston have now lost five of their past six games, sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings at 38-25, but are in dnager of missing out on home court advantage in the playoffs, with the Phildalphia 76ers sitting 2.5 games up in fourth place.
Their poor run of form couldn't have come at a worse time, with a tough four-game road trip coming up, starting with a trip to Oracle Arena to play the Golden State Warriors, followed by games against the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers.