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Boston Celtics pull away for win over Rockets

Apr 2, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA;  Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) passes the ball past Houston Rockets guard Avery Bradley (9) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) passes the ball past Houston Rockets guard Avery Bradley (9) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Jayson Tatum scored 26 points, Jaylen Brown added 22 with 11 rebounds and the Boston Celtics beat the visiting Houston Rockets 118-102 Friday night.

Robert Williams III scored a career-high 20 points on 9-of-9 shooting in his return from a game missed due to a non-COVID illness as the Celtics snapped a two-game losing streak.

Williams added nine rebounds and a career-high eight assists in his fourth start of the season. New addition Evan Fournier scored 23 points and sank seven 3-pointers. Marcus Smart had 10 of Boston’s 35 assists on the night.

Christian Wood amassed 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Rockets, who have lost three straight and 5 of 6 since snapping a 20-game skid.

The Celtics upped an eight-point advantage at halftime to double digits, 59-49, on a Tatum breakaway dunk with 8:39 remaining in the third quarter. The slam kicked off a 16-6 stretch in which Brown scored eight consecutive Boston points. He picked up a technical foul along the way for waving his arm at the referee after a layup.

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The Celtics’ lead reached 77-59 before the Rockets ripped off an 8-0 run. Boston ended the third up 82-70.

Tatum and Brown scored 13 points apiece in the period.

Fournier made four consecutive 3-point attempts early in the fourth, the last producing a 100-81 advantage with 8:06 to go. He sank two more threes in the quarter as Boston led by as much as 24 down the stretch.

Brown exited with a left knee contusion with 6:39 remaining and did not return.

The Celtics entered the second quarter up 33-25 but couldn’t shake off the Rockets. Houston used a 9-0 run to take a 38-37 edge and led again 44-43 with 3:37 left before Boston ended the half with a 9-0 spurt for a 52-44 lead at the break.

Tatum topped the Celtics with 13 first-half points. Wood paced the Rockets with 14 before intermission.

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–Field Level Media