for this game

Allen, Celtics end unbeaten start for Rockets

Nov 5, 2008 - 8:22 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen is known more for his shooting, but he made one of the biggest plays hitting the offensive boards on Tuesday.

Allen scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, including a key three-point play, as Boston handed the Houston Rockets their first loss of the season, 103-99.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Allen grabbed an offensive rebound on the weak side off a 3-point attempt by Eddie House and was fouled scoring a layup. He converted the ensuing free throw to give the Celtics a 90-86 lead with 5:50 to play.

"Our guards stuck their nose in there a bunch tonight," Boston coach Doc Rivers said, referring to Allen and Rajon Rondo.

Allen had five rebounds and five assists while Rondo contributed 10 points, all in the first quarter, to go along with seven boards and seven assists.

"The stats on this team don't really matter," Allen said. "I don't have to score many nights. Last year's championship meant me doing different things. I shoot the ball over the top and like to get the ball in transition. But there's more things to be done here."

The three-point play was apart of an 8-0 run in which Allen contributed six points, including a technical free throw with 3:39 remaining for a 93-86 advantage.

Houston had scored eight points in a row to take an 86-85 lead. Kevin Garnett answered with a jumper from the top of the key to put Boston back on top, then Allen followed with his key play.

Allen did his usual share of accurate shooting from the outside as well, finishing 11-of-15 from the floor with a pair of 3-pointers before fouling out in the closing minute. He made all five of his free throws.

"We said this morning we thought we could get him some shots," Rivers said of Allen. "We set a whole lot of picks and it's hard for anyone to chase Ray around the court."

"Offensively our execution was a lot better than the last game," said Allen, comparing the win with Saturday's loss at Indiana. "We moved the ball much better yesterday in practice."

Tracy McGrady led Houston with 26 points, making two of three free throws with 10 seconds left to bring the Rockets within two points at 101-99.

However, House followed with two free throws a second later to all but seal the game for the Celtics.

Boston used a 10-0 run to stretch its lead to 40-25 with 8:59 left in the second quarter.

Aaron Brooks, Houston's backup point guard, woke up his team with a drive for a basket. That ignited a 25-7 run by the Rockets that was capped by Brooks' jumper from the top of the key to take a 52-47 edge with 2:49 left before halftime.

Allen responded with eight points in a row for the Celtics, completing a three-point play, hitting a 3-pointer from the right wing and adding a pair of free throws to give Boston a 55-52 lead before taking a five-point advantage into the half.

The Celtics maintained a steady lead through most of the third quarter, before McGrady scored eight points for the Rockets in a span of 1:48 to cut their deficit to 79-78. Boston finished the period with an 81-78 advantage.

McGrady received little help from teammate Yao Ming, who played one of his poorest games in the last several seasons for Houston. He committed his third foul with 7:56 left in the second quarter and played only eight minutes in the first half, scoring just six points. Yao finished with eight points on 4-for-14 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds in 28 minutes.

"The best defense was Yao got in foul trouble," Rivers said. "But (Kendrick) Perkins did a terrific job on him."

The Celtics bodied Yao with Perkins and the 6-9, 290-pound Glen Davis along with provided help from Garnett and others.

"You try to outwork him, be a nag, be a pest," Davis said of guarding Yao. "You want him to be upset, frustrated."

That can be tough because Perkins pointed out that Yao does not show a lot of emotion on the court.

"We just tried to make him work, make it tough on him," Perkins said. "Ticket (Garnett) did a good job of helping me. It started from the loss we had the other night in Indiana. We came in focused tonight."

It was the first time in 63 games, since April 4, 2007, that Yao had failed to score in double figures.

"When (Yao) was in the game, they were fronting him and backing him," McGrady said. "It was hard to get him the ball. He was struggling offensively and he couldn't get in a good rhythm, but we were right there."

Early in the third quarter, Yao turned to dunk the ball and stuffed himself on the rim. In the fourth quarter, the 6-10 Perkins blocked a shot by Yao, just a little over a minute before Yao was called for walking trying to make a move on the left block.

"The early fouls changed my game a little bit," Yao said. "But they can not be my excuse. I played a bad game, probably one of my worst games of all time."

Boston outrebounded the Rockets, 27-19, in the first half to take a 58-53 halftime lead.

"They're a big, physical team around the basket," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "We got pounded on the boards. We know that's an area we really need to work on because we're not that big went Yao's out."

Houston was denied its first 4-0 start since 1996-97.

"This is a huge win for us," Davis said. "It's a great game to have under your belt, to come out here in the West and get a 'W' against a good team."

"They definitely have the pieces when (Shane) Battier gets healthy," Allen said of the Rockets. "They are definitely contenders. I know they have so much hype with (Ron) Artest coming here, with the three guys (Yao, McGrady and Artest). It was like us last summer."