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NBA ICYMI: The Celtics—and the First-Half Rockets—Outscore the Warriors

Everything you need to know about Thursday night in the NBA

Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

All the need-to-know info from Thursday’s slate.

The Guarding in the Garden

The tale of the tape between the Warriors and the Celtics on Thursday night indicated a tantalizing prime-time matchup. The best offense in the league against the best defense. The best team so far this season against the best team—possibly ever. It lived up to the billing, but that it was a low-scoring defensive lockdown where one team would finish with fewer than 90 points was what made the game surprisingly thrilling.

The Celtics shot 33 percent from the field, while the Warriors countered with 40 percent in the scrappy, early-2000s-style rock fight where Boston squeezed out a 92-88 win for its 14 straight victory—after being down by as many as 17.

All night the Warriors were ahead, teetering on the edge of one of their customary suffocating blowouts. Yet at the end of the second and third quarters the Celtics rescued the ultimate result from the precipice of irrelevance.

In a star-studded game, no Warrior was able to stand above the fray and finish off the Celtics, who were having an off shooting night. It was too much system, not enough stardom for Golden State—three of the team’s starters scored in double digits, while all five of Boston’s did. The Warriors also simply went cold, which was like watching a shooting star: rare and a sight to behold. Klay Thompson and Steph Curry shot a combined 5-for-20 from 3, and while Kevin Durant hit impossible fadeaways with seeming ease, he missed one with 12 seconds left that would have tied the game.

In the end, it was the Celtics’ active and relentless defensive effort that proved the difference, and it was Jaylen Brown (we’ll get to him in a bit) and Kyrie Irving’s late surge that fueled the Celtics’ offense. The latter dropped 11 timely points in the fourth, including two from the free throw line after a questionable foul call during the final seconds.

It may be too early to say “Finals preview,” but it was a hell of a game nonetheless.

Houston Lifts Off

In the late game Thursday, Chris Paul returned to the Rockets' lineup in Phoenix, but James Harden stole the first-half show. In 19 minutes, Harden scored 33 points on 12 shots, while the Rockets scored a franchise-record 90 points in 24 minutes. That’s two more points than the Warriors scored in the entire game against the Celtics.

Not a Smart Move, Marcus

Who told Andre Iguodala it was throwback night in Boston?

An Early Jaylen Brown Thanksgiving

The growth and improvement of Jaylen Brown from Year 1 to Year 2 has been too much to ignore. On Thursday night, Brown made the parquet his proving ground, delivering when it mattered most with both defensive length and his newfound offensive strength.

In the first quarter, he exhibited athleticism with a block on KD.

While swiping the ball from a flummoxed Curry led to this dunk:

When the Celtics galloped to a 19-2 run in the final five minutes of the third quarter, it was fueled by a personal 5-0 run from Brown, who was seemingly omnipresent on both ends of the floor. Playing a day after his best friend died, the sophomore finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Mask On, Mask Off

Could Giannis’s Pan Be This Season’s Version of Klay Thompson’s Toaster?