Rockets aim for 3-0 start against C’s

( – The Houston Rockets will try to go 3-0 Saturday night
when they stage their home opener against the Boston Celtics at the Toyota

The Rockets defeated the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers, both on the road,
to start the campaign. Houston won both games by a combined 29 points, marking
the first time since the 2007-08 season the Rockets captured the first two
games by double digits.

Against the Jazz on Wednesday, Dwight Howard scored 22 points with 10 rebounds
and two blocks to lead the Rockets to a 104-93 win.

James Harden nearly contributed a triple-double, scoring 18 with 10 assists
and seven rebounds, and Trevor Ariza finished with 20 points in the win.
Kostas Papanikolaou chipped in 12 off the bench.

After allowing 50 points to the Jazz in the first half, the Rockets put on the
clamps. Utah just managed 43 points over the final 24 minutes and Houston
marched to a 2-0 mark.

“Second half we did a great job of coming out with some defensive intensity,”
Harden said.

Offensively, the Rockets shot 51.9 percent from the field versus Utah and the
same percentage from beyond the 3-point arc. Last season, Houston went 26-3
when it shot over 50 percent from the floor, and 25-8 when it converted 10 or
more 3-point attempts.

The Rockets’ stop home will be brief. They visit the Philadelphia 76ers and
Miami Heat next week.

The Celtics opened the season in impressive fashion with a 121-105 home win
over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.

Rajon Rondo woke up from a long nap Wednesday afternoon and decided he was
ready to go after he missed the entire preseason with a broken left hand. The
decision paid off as Rondo went for 13 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds
to lead the C’s to victory.

Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points and Jeff Green had 17 for Boston.

Eight Celtics reached double figures, and all 10 that took the floor scored at
least six points in a balanced attack.

“I think we still need to do a better job with weakside defense,” said Green.
“We still have things we need to correct. We have to continue to move

The Celtics will have to improve defensively just to match up with the
Rockets’ star duo of Harden and Howard.

“We have to give them different looks,” said Green. “I think we’ve done a
great job in today’s practice as far as communication as far as what we want
to do.”

The Rockets swept the Celtics last season and have taken six of the last eight
meetings. Houston has won three straight at home against the C’s, who had
previously won four straight in Houston.