Red-hot Rockets win 15th straight

The Associated Press

Rockets guard James Harden, right, drives by Celtics forward Al Horford in the first half on Saturday.

The Associated PressHOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Rockets know people understand how good they are on offense.

They hope games like this one showcase that they can play pretty good defense, too.

Eric Gordon scored 29 points off the bench, James Harden had 26 points and 10 assists, and the Rockets outlasted the Boston Celtics 123-120 on Saturday night to extend their winning streak to a season-high 15 games.

“Defensively we are very equipped to get stops,” Trevor Ariza said. “So we have a lot in this locker room.”

Houston trailed by six before using a 10-2 run, with the last five points coming from Ariza, to take a 117-115 lead with 1:16 remaining.

Ariza made a 3-pointer before stealing the ball from Kyrie Irving and finishing with a basket on the other end to cap the run.

Al Horford missed shots on Boston’s next two possessions before Chris Paul made two free throws with 15 seconds left to push the lead to four. Irving hit a layup seconds later, but Harden made one of two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to make it 120-117.

Irving and Paul hit two free throws each before Irving made one and purposely missed the second with 2.8 seconds left. Gordon made one of two free throws to make it 123-120 with 2.3 seconds remaining, and Marcus Smart’s 3-point attempt bounced off the rim at the buzzer to give Houston the win.

“Defense [is] what it boiled down to,” Gordon said. “In the first half it was a little too easy for them ... and the reason why we won was fourth-quarter defense.”

Houston’s winning streak ties the second-longest in franchise history, accomplished twice during Hakeem Olajuwon’s tenure in the 1990s, and trails only a 22-game run the Rockets had in the 2007-08 season. It’s their second long winning streak of the season after the NBA-leading Rockets won 14 in a row from Nov. 16 to Dec. 18.

Marcus Morris had 21 points off the bench for the Celtics, who had won four in a row since the All-Star break.

“I just thought they maximized more possessions than we did,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. Speech

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