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Harden leads Rockets over Celtics 104-90

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden had 26 points and eight rebounds, and the Houston Rockets used a big first quarter to defeat the Boston Celtics 104-90 Saturday night.

Harden was 5 of 14 from the field, but he was 14 of 14 from the free throw line. He also had six assists.

Terrence Jones added 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Dwight Howard had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, who started 3-0 for the second straight season. Houston shot 35 percent from behind the arc and hit 28 of 40 from the free throw line.

Isaiah Canaan scored nine points after starting in place of Patrick Beverley, who missed the game with a strained left hamstring suffered Wednesday in Utah.

Jeff Green had 17 points, and Jared Sullinger added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Celtics, which finished 1 of 25 from behind the arc after starting 0 for 21.

Rajon Rondo was held to four points on 2 of 9 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

The Rockets opened up a 22-8 lead in the first six minutes behind eight points by Terrence Jones and five points from Trevor Ariza. Houston’s lead grew to 37-18 on a Jason Terry three-pointer with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Celtics closed within 41-28 on a Kelly Olynyk layup with 8 1-2 minutes left in the half, but Houston answered with an 11-2 spurt to take a 22-point lead on a Howard hook shot. Houston led 57-38 at the half.

Boston got no closer than 11 in the second half.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Olynyk finished with eight points and was in foul trouble throughout the night after scoring 19 points in the season-opening win over Brooklyn. . Marcus Thornton had nine points, and Brandon Bass, Evan Turner and Tyler Zeller each had eight points off the bench. . Boston finished 15 of 18 from the free throw line, with eight different players shooting free throws.

Rockets: Canaan got the start over veteran Jason Terry in part because coach Kevin McHale wanted to keep Terry’s minutes down. “I try to keep Jet’s (Terry’s) time down some, so if he starts, time seems to get away from me a lot quicker,” McHale said. “We’ll bring in Jet as needed for balance.” Terry scored seven points in 23 minutes.

UP NEXT

Celtics: Plays at Dallas on Monday.

Rockets: Plays at Philadelphia on Monday.

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