Aaron Brooks scored 24 points as the Houston Rockets earned a surprising road victory over the East-leading Boston Celtics 108-102 on Monday night. Brooks almost didn't play due to a sprained ankle. But injuries to other Rockets including top scorer Kevin Martin pushed Brooks into the line-up, where he shredded the vaunted Boston defense.
Brooks hit five of eight tries from beyond the arc as the Rockets as a whole shot 53.7 percent on two-pointers, 50 percent on three-pointers and hit 20-26 from the line. In a dual point guard starting five with Kyle Lowry, Brooks also offered up five assists. Lowry scored 17 points (in part thanks to eight free throws) and added eight assists.
Even in defeat, the Celtics can usually rely on staunch defense. But that part of the game abandoned Boston early, as the Rockets hung 27 on the board in the first quarter. Lowry scored nine points in that opening period, and Houston took a 27-22 lead into intermission. The game remained close until the fourth quarter, where the Rockets opened up and held a 10-point lead for long stretches.
The Celtics saw a bad shooting night from Glen Davis (6-14), who continued to start in place of Kevin Garnett. The Big Ticket is expected back soon, and Boston clearly needs him. The Celtics are now 4-3 since KG was injured in a game against the Pistons two weeks ago. Boston now has the same number of losses as the rival Miami Heat, who with the Celtics' loss move into the East's No. 1 seed.
Houston snapped a five-game losing streak with the win. Martin injured his wrist in Saturday's loss to the Utah Jazz; it's not yet clear whether the guard will miss many more games. Brad Miller and Chuck Hayes also missed the game for the Rockets.
CelticsBlog notes that Doc Rivers called out his starters for playing without effort. Check The Dream Shake for Rockets analysis.