Pierce, Allen lead Celtics past RocketsMar 20, 2010 - 4:04 AM By CHRIS DUNCAN AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON(AP) -- No matter where Aaron Brooks ran Friday night, Rajon Rondo seemed to follow him. And when Houston's speedy point guard found space, another Boston Celtic seemed to step in front of him.
Paul Pierce scored 26 points, Ray Allen hit five 3-pointers and had 19 points, and the Celtics snapped Houston's four-game winning streak with a 94-87 victory.
Rondo had 10 assists for the Celtics, who smothered Brooks and held the Rockets to 39.5 percent shooting (30 of 76). Brooks, coming off consecutive 31-point games, was held to 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting and had a streak of games with a 3-pointer stopped at 39.
"I just wanted to make him take contested shots," Rondo said. "I didn't want to leave him open tonight. I just tried to send him in with the big guys. Not just me, but they did a great job as well."
Brooks needed a driving layup with 2:14 left to extend his streak of double-digit scoring games to 39.
"We've just got to run our sets," Brooks said. "Their guards are pretty good at denying the ball. Besides that, their big guys are an excellent rotating team."
Boston remained tied with Atlanta for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks beat Charlotte on Friday night.
The Celtics improved to 23-12 on the road, compared to 21-12 at home.
"The road is hostile," Garnett said. "You expect the worst, and that's what it is. Maybe we're too confident at home."
Luis Scola and Kevin Martin scored 17 points apiece for the Rockets, who've lost their last four home games against Boston.
"They played a pretty intense game," Scola said. "They were focused, they knew what to do. They were talking a lot, and communicating between themselves. They were just ready to play."
Boston trailed early, then hit nine of its last 14 shots of the first quarter to take a 28-24 lead.
The Celtics' reserves held Houston scoreless for the first 3 minutes of the second quarter and extended the lead to nine. Chase Budinger's dunk with 8:23 left in the half snapped a string of 11 straight misses for the Rockets.
Scola, who led Houston with 13 first-half points, left with his third foul with 2 minutes left before halftime. Brooks, guarded well by Rondo most of the night, had only two points at the break on 1-for-3 shooting.
Houston shot 32.5 percent (13 of 40) in the first half and trailed 50-41.
"We kept everybody intact for the most part," Garnett said of Boston's defense. "It was just a collective effort. We needed that with a team like this."
Allen, Garnett and Pierce combined for 28 points in the first half.
Pierce went to the bench with his fourth foul early in the third quarter, and the Rockets launched an 11-2 spurt. Brooks tipped in a Scola miss before Martin and Trevor Ariza hit consecutive 3s to tie it at 52.
Allen hit three 3-pointers over the next 4 minutes, but Martin and Ariza converted steals into breakaways to keep Houston close. But the Rockets missed their last five shots of the third quarter, and Boston stretched it to 72-62 by the start of the fourth.
The Celtics shot 50 percent from the field (9 of 18) and 3-point range (4 of 8) in the third quarter. Boston finished with 25 assists on 37 field goals, and Allen said the smooth offense fed into the stingy defense on Friday.
"Executing offensively, that's been our Achilles' heel, when we've been bad," Allen said. "With bad offense, you put teams in transition, and we don't give our defense a chance."
Kyle Lowry replaced the ineffective Brooks in the final quarter, and the Rockets cut the deficit to four with 8 minutes remaining. Pierce scored inside, then hit two free throws with 7:23 left to put Boston up 79-71.
He sank back-to-back 3s to give the Celtics an 88-77 lead with about 5 minutes left, and fans started filing for the exits.
NOTES: The Rockets are 0-9 when they score fewer than 90 points this season. ... Pierce played in his 871st game with Boston, tying Sam Jones for ninth on the Celtics' career list. ... The Celtics and Rockets were playing for the first time this season. They will meet again in Boston on April 2. ... Houston F Jordan Hill blocked a career-high five shots. ... The Celtics were 10 for 23 from 3-point range.
FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
BOSTON 28 22 22 22 94
HOUSTON 24 17 21 25 87 FINAL
HIGH SCORERS: BOS - PAUL PIERCE 26, RAY ALLEN 19, KEVIN
HOU - KEVIN MARTIN 17, LUIS SCOLA 17, TWO
PLAYERS WITH 11
Mar 19 10:56 PM
END 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
BOSTON 28 22 22 72
HOUSTON 24 17 21 62 END 3RD QTR
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 3RD QUARTER
BOS - RAY ALLEN 19, PAUL PIERCE 11,
KEVIN GARNETT 9
HOU - KEVIN MARTIN 15, LUIS SCOLA 13,
TREVOR ARIZA 9
Mar 19 10:22 PM
HOUSTON 41 HALFTIME
Mar 19 9:41 PM
END 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
BOSTON 28 28
HOUSTON 24 24 END 1ST QTR
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 1ST QUARTER
BOS - RAY ALLEN 8, PAUL PIERCE 6, THREE
PLAYERS WITH 4
HOU - LUIS SCOLA 10, CHUCK HAYES 4,
KEVIN MARTIN 4
Mar 19 9:07 PM
- Celtics' Olynyk undergoes successful shoulder surgery May 17
- NBA China to open basketball-themed Playzone in Shanghai May 17
- After lots of losing, 76ers hope to win big in NBA lottery May 17
- Love's Return: Cavs' big man thriving in second postseason May 11
- Celtics' president Ainge embracing expectation-filled summer May 4
- Rockets must find coach in wake of first-round ouster Apr 29
- Optimism high as Celtics enter a likely active offseason Apr 29
- Hawks confident heading into 2nd round rematch with Cavs Apr 29
- Hawks overwhelm Celtics, move to 2nd round with 104-92 win Apr 29
- Warriors reach second round with MVP Stephen Curry sidelined Apr 28
- Warriors roll into second round of playoffs without Curry Apr 28
- Hawks, Celtics alone on playoff stage in close out game Apr 28