NBA: Celtics light up Udoka, Rockets to improve to 19-0 at home

NBA: Celtics light up Udoka, Rockets to improve to 19-0 at home

/ 10:47 AM January 14, 2024

NBA Scores, News, Schedules

Jayson Tatum Celtics vs Rockets NBA

Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum (0) keeps the ball away from Houston Rockets’ Amen Thompson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BOSTON — Jayson Tatum had 27 points and eight rebounds before being ejected on back-to-back technical fouls in the fourth quarter, and the Boston Celtics remained unbeaten at home with a 145-113 victory over ex-coach Ime Udoka and the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Jaylen Brown scored 32 points and the Celtics improved to 19-0 in the TD Garden – the first time in the history of the much-decorated franchise that it has opened a season with more than 17 wins in a row.

Cam Whitmore scored 22 points and Alperen Sengun had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who have lost three of their last four to drop their record to 19-19. They won just 22 games all last season.


Tatum was tossed for the second time in six weeks, picking up his first technical for complaining about a non-call with 10:17 left in the fourth quarter and Boston leading 117-90. He continued to complain while Aaron Holiday took the foul shot and picked up a second T, then walked over to referee CJ Washington and leaned in to shout something before walking off the court.

Coming off a 33-point loss to Milwaukee on Thursday, the Celtics returned to Boston and extended their home winning streak to 26 consecutive regular-season games dating to last March. They did lose in the TD Garden in last year’s playoffs, including Miami’s Game 7 win in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Rockets led by six points in the first quarter and still trailed just 51-50 midway through the second before Boston scored 18 of the next 24 points to take a double-digit lead into halftime. Houston never got within 10 again, with Boston leading by as many as 27 points in the third quarter and 36 in the fourth.

Udoka was coaching in Boston for the first time since he was suspended, and then fired, on the eve of the 2022-23 season for inappropriate workplace behavior. Joe Mazzulla replaced him, first as the interim coach, and then full time.

Udoka, who led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in his only season on the Boston bench, got a mixed reaction when he was introduced before the game.

“Obviously want to get a chance to run it back with a group you feel you can build and grow with,” he said before the game. “So for me the biggest thing I would say overall is letting some people down, for sure. But we’ve talked it out … and so we move past it.”



Rockets: At Philadelphia on Monday.

Celtics: At Toronto on Monday.

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TAGS: Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, NBA

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