Full Recap coming...
Game Notes found below
The Rockets ran an interesting starting lineup tonight in Boston, going with Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley as guards (as usual), but started both Eddie Griffin and Kenny Thomas alongisde Kelvin Cato.
Griffin hit a triple off the bat to get started and made a short jumper off a nice pass. After KT and Cato each scored, the Celtics had to call timeout, trailing 11-4 early. Said one of the Celtics announcers, "In 3 years Eddie Griffin will be the best player on this Rockets team."
The Celtics came back with a 7-0 run, capped by an Antoine Walker triple, but Griffin hit another and just like that he had 8 points and 6 boards while the Rockets were up 16-11 when KT followed that with a jumper. After a Mobley triple, the Rockets were up 19-12.
The Celts came roaring back to take a 20-19 edge, but Mobley hit another trifecta and the Rockets were up 22-20. After one, the Rockets led 25-22.
Griffin hit 3-4 shots, including 2-2 from long range, to tally 8 points, 6 boards and an assist in the first quarter. Mobley also scored 8, going 3-8 from the floor but 2-2 from beyond the arc. Cato snared 6 boards while Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker combined for 16 of the Celts' 22.
To start the second, Mobley hit his third triple, then wow.... so did Griffin (Eddie now 14 of his last 19 triples) and the Rockets were up 31-23. But Antoine Walker was feeling it like Mobley, and after he hit two free throws and a quick hook, the Rockets were up just two, 33-31.
Terence Morris tipped in a Griffin miss, but when Erik Williams made a pair of freebies, the game was knotted up at 35. Morris hit another jumper though to give the Rockets back the lead.
It stayed that close until later in the second quarter. After Eddie took a breather and came back in a little later, he scored and the Rockets were up 47-42.
At half: Rockets 50, Celtics 44. Griffin and Mobley each had 13 points, with both players going 3-4 from long range a piece. Eddie also added 8 boards, all defensive. While Francis had 6 points, 6 assists and 4 boards, he struggled... just 1-6 shooting and he committed 5 turnovers in the first half. Pierce and Walker, as usual, did the damage for Boston, combining for 27 points.
The Rockets shot 46.3% in the first half to the Celtics' 41%.
The Rockets scored 3 quick points, but the Celtics scored 5 to get within 53-49. Cato put in an alleyoop slam, but when Pierce scored and was fouled by Morris, it was 55-51. He missed the FT and Walker got the board, but Griffin rejected the putback (his 2nd block on the night).
Griffin later hit two free throws, then Cato threw down two dunks and the Rockets were up 61-53.
Boston came right back, but Mobley hit another triple and when Morris hit a jumper, it was 67-61 Rockets. A little later Griffin picked up his 3rd block and Terence followed that with a triple, and the Rockets led 73-64 while Morris had 9 points on 4-5 shooting.
With the Rockets up 75-67, Francis was fouled and went to the line for a chance at a triple-double. He already had 10 points and 10 boards to go with 8 points. He made 1-2 and was one point shy of the trip-dub.
Griffin then swatted Paul Pierce and Francis followed that with a three, giving him his triple double, and the Rockets led 79-67. Erik Strickland nailed a three just before the quarter ended... 79-70 Rockets going in to the fourth.
Pierce was a beast with 16 in the quarter, giving him 30 on the night, but Mobley led the Rockets with 19 and was 5-6 from downtown. Griffin had 15 points (5-10 shooting), 9 boards and 4 blocks while Francis had 12 points, 10 boards and 10 assists. The THREE were clicking...
Right off the bat in the fourth, another Griffin block (his 5th)... again on Antoine Walker. Mobley missed a three, but after a Celtics miss, Pierce fouled Griffin. He made both at the line and the Rockets led 81-70.
After the Celtics got to within 81-73, Griffin hit an awesome fadeaway jumper and he had 19 points, putting the Rockets back up 10. With 8:52 left, Griffin went to the bench.... having done quite a bit of damage.
When Francis pulled up for 3, the Rockets were up 86-75 and loving it.
The Celts quickly closed to within 86-80, but the Rockets hit a technical free throw, then KT drove and scored and the Rockets were up 89-80 with just under 7 minutes left in the fourth.
The Celtics came back. After Cuttino put up a bad shot, Tony Battie scored underneath and it was 91-85 Rockets with 5:20 to go. Terence Morris then missed a three and Pierce scored on the other end and just like that, with 4:55 to go the Celtics were within four.
Cuttino then missed a three, but Walker missed and Francis got the board.... he pulled up and nailed a cold-blooded 20-footer. 93-87 Rockets.
KT then fouled out of the game, picking up his 6th against Paul Pierce. Pierce made the first, missed the second. Griffin rebounded and Francis hit another jumper, giving him 20, and it was 95-88 Houston. 3:09 left in the game.
Walker hit a triple, but Mobley found Francis for a deuce. Pierce then fouled out Morris, making both freebies to make it 97-93 Rockets. Francis was rejected on a shot and Walker scored quickly. 97-95 Rockets with 1:23 to go.
Francis went around a pick and missed a jumper... but it resulted in a jumpball with Francis against Battie with 1:03 to go. Battie won that.
Huge defensive stop needed.... but the refs bailed out Antoine Walker with 42.4 seconds left. He went to the line... he missed the first, made the second.
Rockets ball, up 97-96. Timeout Houston. Man ... what is it about the last 5-7 minutes? Can't we just finish the job?
After the inbound, Mobley got the ball... he found Moochie, who pulled up from three-point land... BINGO!!! 100-96 Rockets. Timeout Celtics with 27.5 seconds left.
Griffin was called for a garbage foul on Strickland. He made both FTs to bring Boston within two. Francis was then fouled.... he missed the first, but made the second. 101-98 with 21.2 ticks left.
Strickland pulled up for 3 and missed. Francis snared the board (his 15th) and was immediately fouled. He again could only make 1-2 and it hurt.... Walker countered with an immediate three.
102-101 with just over 5 seconds left. Francis again was fouled. This time, he made both.