Jaylen Brown loses 43, but Cs fail in Houston

Celtics-Rockets takeaways: Jaylen can’t wear the Cs in awful loss to Houston, Originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics fell short of the NBA’s worst team on Monday night.

They traveled to Houston for the second leg of their six-game road trip and were humbled by the lowly Rockets. Houston, which improved to 16-52 this season, led up to 13 points and was in control for most of the night. The Celtics cut the deficit to one point late in the fourth quarter but couldn’t complete the comeback as they fell 111-109.

Jaylen Brown (43 points) and Malcolm Brogdon (20 points off the bench) did his part to keep Boston in the game. Jayson Tatum was down 22 points but had a shotless night (2-10 3PT) and missed the tying layup when time expired.

Five Rockets players scored in double figures including Jalen Green (28 points) and Jabari Smith Jr. (24 points).

The Celtics are now 47-22 this season and will be looking to bounce back Wednesday night in Minnesota. First, here are our takeaways from Monday’s nasty loss to the Rockets.

The bouncing misfortunes continue

The Celtics have been inconsistent on the boards lately. They got away with it in Saturday’s win over Atlanta, but it cost them in Monday’s loss.

Houston outshot Boston 48-38, including 15-10 on the offensive glass, which led to 17 second-chance points. The Celtics’ offensive rebound was a glaring problem with the game in the balance during the fourth quarter and ultimately led to their demise.

Poor performances on the boards show just how important big man Robert Williams is to the C’s success. Without him, there simply hasn’t been enough frontcourt production outside of Al Horford. Williams said he was going speed up your workout Tuesday, but there is still no timetable for his return to court.

Hard night for Tatum

It was a night to forget for Jayson Tatum. The Celtics star couldn’t find his groove offensively as he started just 1 for 9 from the field (1-7 3PT). He finished the first half with nine points on 3-of-12 shooting and it didn’t get much better from there.

Tatum hit a few big shots in the streak, including during his 13-point third quarter, but he was mostly held off as he finished with 22 points on 8-of-22 shooting (3-10 3PT ). The 25-year-old also turned the ball over four times with his most crucial turnover with 23 seconds left in regular time.

After the loss, he accepted responsibility for the Celtics’ lack of energy.

“I take the blame for it,” Tatum said. “I didn’t necessarily start the best and I feel like that sort of spread throughout the team. And so I have to be better starting the game, just from an energy level. “

It was a fitting end to Tatum’s night as he missed a layup that would have sent the game into overtime. He’ll be looking to turn the page when the Celtics visit the Timberwolves on Wednesday.

Implications for seeding

Making the loss to the last-place Rockets even more poignant impacted the Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings. The No. 1 seed has slipped out of reach again with just 13 games left in the regular season.

The No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks (48-19) now have a three-game advantage over Boston in the loss column. The Philadelphia 76ers (45-22) are now tied with the Cs in the loss column and are out for the second seed.

The road only gets tougher for the Celtics from now on. They have four games left on their current trip and while there are winnable games to come (Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Jazz) they need to stop playing at their competition level. Otherwise, they’ll fall to the No. 3 seed before they know it.

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