Celtics overcome 26-point deficit, beat Rockets on Horford’s basket

BOSTON — Marcus Smart helped complete a furious comeback for Boston on two plays he never touched the ball.

Smart drew an offensive foul on James Harden with 7.3 seconds left, getting the ball back in time for Al Horford to sink a hook shot with 3.7 seconds left, and the Celtics rallied from a 26-point deficit to beat Houston 99-98 on Thursday.

“It just shows the value of Marcus Smart to our group and what he does for our team. It all started with him in the second half,” Horford said. “It was just a domino effect. That’s how special he is. And when he plays at that level we’re just a different team.”

After Horford’s shot, Smart did it again when he drew another foul on Harden and the Rockets ran out of time.

Kyrie Irving scored 26 and Jayson Tatum finished with 19 for the Celtics, who held Houston to just nine field goals in the second half while tying the largest comeback in the NBA this season.

“I’ve had a few comebacks, but this is a special one. From just how we started, it was just so ugly,” Irving said. “They came out firing. We just had to battle back. It took a lot. It took everybody.”

Smart and Terry Rozier had 13 points apiece and Horford finished with nine points and eight rebounds.

Tatum made a layup with seven seconds left to pull the Celtics within 98-97, then Smart had position on Harden for an offensive foul that gave Boston the ball. Horford converted from the lane to put Boston up for the first time in a game Houston had led throughout and dominated until midway through the third quarter.

The Rockets opened the game on a 12-0 run and led 62-38 at halftime. After committing six turnovers in the first half, Houston had seven in the third quarter and Boston capitalized by outscoring the Rockets 31-16.

Harden finished with 34 points and 10 assists. Eric Gordon scored 24 points for Houston, which shot 25 percent in the second half and lost its fourth straight.

“It was the tale of two halves,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We were kind of like them in the first half and they were like us in the second.”