This is the Bizarro-world game. The Celtics  shot 12-for-18 in the first quarter and the Rockets shot 12-for-18 in the second. A big reason was the small lineup employed by Rick Adelman. Aaron Brooks, in particular, ran circles around the Celtics defense. The good news for Boston? Only five turnovers in the first half.
This is a big half for the Celtics, maybe their biggest of the season to date.
THIRD QUARTER WRAP: The importance of that quarter can not be underestimated. After getting out-everythinged in the second, the Celtics brought energy, toughness and more than a little bit of grit back to the proceedings. Also, Baby was fantastic. He seems to play really well against Yao for some reason.
OK, 12 of the most important minutes of the season are on tap.
Third Quarter Observations
— Kendrick Perkins  just got his fourth foul for his patented step out while setting a screen offensive foul. This has not been a good night for Perk and Rondo. The Big Three are all in double figures, by the way.
— Pierce and Artest are really going at it, and neither one is giving an inch. Artest is probably the only small forward, outside of LeBron, who can actually go toe-to-toe with Pierce. This is going to be a slugfest the rest of the way, although just as I typed it the refs popped the whistle twice, so maybe they’re trying to clean it up a little.
— The Cavs are killing the Bobacts tonight, which is to be expected since the game is in Cleveland, but for everyone lamenting the Celtics schedule, nobody has it easy this time of year.
— Got to say this. The crowd is not giving the Celtics much energy tonight. They’re waiting for something to happen. Well this is what’s happening. Two dog tired teams are grinding it out in January and both need a win. If that’s enough…
— You could see that Artest foul coming all the way down the court. Give Pierce his props on that one. He had every right to be ticked off after Ron-Ron came down with both arms and he just brushed it off.
— And he just got whacked in the head, and Pierce walked down the court without even looking back at Artest and made both free throws. That’s a huge statement on how far Pierce has come.
— This is Pierce’s game tonight. He loves these kinds of matchups. By the way if you see in the paper tomorrow that the Celtics went on a “7-0 run to take the lead,” don’t believe it. The “run” took about four minutes.
— OK, now the crowd is back into it, and the Celtics got screwed because of the mandatory 3-minute timeout rule.
— I’m a little surprised Garnett didn’t come out of the game during that timeout. Of course, just as I posted that insight KG came out.
— Baby did everything right on that play, but Yao is just too big. If you get him to shoot that 12-foot jumper you’re doing your job.