Morris' return fuels Celtics' comeback


BOSTON – Marcus Morris is a bit of an enigma these days for the Celtics.

His left knee gets sore too quickly to count on him night-in and night-out, but he’s too talented to just put on the shelf and not use at all.


So the not-so-happy medium is to play him sparingly and hope they get the best he has to offer in what will have to be limited doses for now.

That’s exactly what Boston got on Thursday in their 99-98 comeback victory over Houston.

Morris came off the bench to score 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting in just less than 20 minutes, along with four rebounds and a blocked shot.

But beyond the stats, Morris brought a toughness to the game that the Celtics desperately needed.

Because in the first two quarters, Houston absolutely owned Boston, pushing them around at both ends of the floor.

That all changed in the third quarter, with Morris’ play having a lot to do with that turnaround.

“They had us on our heels,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “We tried to be more aggressive defensively; I thought Marcus [Morris] was the key to that, kind of the head of that attack.”

Here are five other takeaways from the victory.

The numbers are going to be there for James Harden to remain firmly entrenched in the race towards becoming the NBA’s MVP this season. But games like the one won’t help his cause. He had 34 points and 10 rebounds, but he also turned the ball over eight times, which includes being whistled for a pair of offensive fouls in the final 7.3 seconds. Of course, that played a major role in Boston’s miraculous comeback win.

Every second of the fourth quarter on Tuesday for Boston involved Terry Rozier being on the floor. And with all that playing time, he delivered as both a scorer and a really annoying defensive pest to the Rockets. Rozier had 15 points, which included eight in the fourth quarter along with three rebounds and two steals.

The calls for Tatum to be more aggressive offensively won’t end anytime soon, especially for those who saw him play on Thursday. He had 19 points but really attacked the rim and got to the free-throw line. In the first half, he was 6-for-8 from the line which, as it turned out, were the only free throws made or taken by the Celtics in the first half.

You don’t make a comeback like the one Boston did without a number of players chipping in. One of those under-the-radar contributors was Abdel Nader who had five points and a career-high seven rebounds. He’ll need to continue making the most of his opportunities to play, well aware that they will be few and far between.

The good players find a way when it matters most.  Al Horford was having a not-so-great night against Houston when suddenly and furiously Boston got back into the game and had a chance to win it with the ball in the hands of Horford. He’s usually looking to pass, but instead looked for his own shot which went in and would later become the game-winning shot.

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