Joe Mazzulla Made Late Scratch ‘Minutes’ Before Celtics-Rockets

The Boston Celtics extended their winning streak to three games Tuesday, knocking off the Houston Rockets at TD Garden. They had to do so without their interim head coach, however.

Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla was scratched from the game just minutes before tipoff with what the team described as “eye irritation.” Mazzulla took part in his pregame press conference, but was clearly struggling with the irritation throughout.

That thrusted assistant coach Damon Stoudamire into the head role, marking the first time in his career as an NBA head coach. Perhaps luckily for the 15-year NBA veteran, he didn’t have much time to overthink things.

“I found out five minutes before game time,” Stoudamire told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin after the game, per the network’s postgame coverage. “So, walking out to the floor dang near. Sometimes it’s better that way.

“It was a lot of fun, but we prepare as a staff each and every game so I’m just carrying out the orders that Joe talks about each and every day.”

The Celtics didn’t seem to find much of a difference between Mazzulla and Stoudamire, with Jayson Tatum providing some comic relief on the situation.

“The only difference was Joe wasn’t over there chewing the (expletive) out some gum,” Tatum said postgame, per NBC Sports Boston.

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