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Tatum, Celtics send Rockets to 15th straight loss, 108-90

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BOSTON (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 30 points, Jaylen Brown had 19 in his return from missing eight games with an injury and the Boston Celtics coasted by Houston 108-90 on Monday night, sending the Rockets to their 15th straight loss.

Dennis Schroder added 18 points for Boston, which has won three straight and eight of 11. Al Horford had 11 points and 11 rebounds. It was Tatum’s fourth straight game with 30 or more points.

“We love what the young guys have done and the other guys have done in those roles, but obviously we want to be whole,” Boston coach Ime Udoka said. “It’s good to get some continuity there to see where we’re going to be eventually when we get healthy.”

Armoni Brooks had 17 points for Houston (1-16). No starter reached double-digit scoring. The Rockets’ only win came at home against Oklahoma City in their second game.

“We need everybody,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. “We need all our starters, for sure. We need to be better.”

Starting center Robert Williams III also returned for Boston after being out the last three games with a sore left knee. He had 15 rebounds and two points.

The Celtics (10-8) broke it open with a 17-0 run midway into the third quarter, holding the Rockets without a point for 6 minutes.

Brown, sidelined with a right hamstring injury, brought the fans to their feet by scoring 10 straight points.

He had a scoop shot in the lane after two free throws and capped his burst with consecutive 3s 24 seconds apart, the first in transition from the top and the second on the left wing. That made it 72-50 with 6:43 left in the third.

“The biggest thing for him was to get his legs under him and feel confident of himself moving on the court,” Horford said of Brown. “Once he was able to get a couple of baskets, you could see that he felt more comfortable with everything. … That third quarter was a really nice stretch, seeing him moving well.”

Rockets center and former Celtic Daniel Theis knows how tough it is to contain Tatum and Brown when they get into a rhythm.

“It’s almost impossible,” Theis said. “You saw when Jaylen had it going, a couple of layups, free throws and he had two 3s in transition, it’s hard. You have to stop them as a team. You can’t stop him or Jayson one-on-one.”

Boston led 86-63 after three quarters.

Tatum had 22 points in the opening half.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Kevin Porter Jr. was sidelined for his third straight game with a bruised left thigh.

Celtics: Brown was on a minutes restriction, with Udoka saying he’d play about half the game. Brown’s first basket in 2 ½ weeks came on a jumper midway into the first quarter after he missed his first three shots. He played 23 minutes. … G Josh Richardson missed the game with a non-COVID illness.

THEME NIGHT

It was billed as “80s Night” at TD Garden with music from that era played during timeouts along with video highlights from the old Boston Garden.

The Celtics welcomed back former player and coach M.L. Carr and former guard Gerald Henderson, whose steal in Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals helped Boston beat the Lakers en route to the championship.

Also, the Celtics beat the Rockets for the 1981 and ’86 NBA titles, and fittingly, like the 80s, the teams had some chippie play in the first half.

WELCOME BACK

Theis got a nice hand during pregame introductions.

The 29-year-old Theis was traded to Chicago last March in his fourth season with the Celtics. The Rockets got him in a sign-and-trade deal from the Bulls during the summer.

UP NEXT

Rockets: Host Chicago on Wednesday.

Celtics: Host Brooklyn on Wednesday to complete a four-game homestand.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

KEN POWTAK
Associated Press

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