National Basketball Association
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                      === Rockets cruise past Celtics ===
 
 Boston,  MA  (SportsNetwork.com) - Dwight  Howard scored 32 points, grabbed 11
 rebounds  and  made enough  free throws  down the stretch  to lift the Houston
 Rockets over the Boston Celtics, 104-92, on Monday.
 
 Jeremy  Lin recorded 16 points and nine assists, James Harden netted 16 points
 as  well  and Chandler  Parsons returned  from a three-game  absence to add 14
 points for the Rockets, who improved to 2-1 on their four-game road trip.
 
 "It  was really  good tonight. I thought it  was going to be a lot more sore,"
 Parsons said of his injured knee that kept him sidelined.
 
 Avery  Bradley poured in  24 points and Jerryd Bayless chipped in with 17, but
 the Celtics still dropped their ninth straight game -- the club's longest skid
 in six seasons.
 
 Boston  was outscored in the paint, 58-36, and shot just 37.6 percent from the
 field.
 
 The  Rockets  missed 15 of  their first 20 shots  and found themselves down by
 nine, 21-12, nine minutes in before discovering their usual scoring stroke.
 
 Houston  shot 13-of-21 from  the field the rest of the half, and a 15-6 run to
 close the second quarter gave the visitors a 52-43 lead at the break.
 
 Harden  and Parsons hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third, stretching
 Houston's  lead to 62-45, and the Rockets cruised into the final frame with an
 84-65 cushion.
 
 The  closest the Celtics got in the fourth was seven after Bayless's mid-range
 jumper got them within 97-90 with 2:48 remaining.
 
 Howard  split  three consecutive trips  to the foul line  to make it a double-
 digit game again with 2:12 remaining, and the Rockets held on from there.
 
 "I  thought  we were good early,  and I thought we  were good late, and in the
 middle  we were  dominated, really  the better  part of  the second  and third
 quarter," Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Terrence  Jones posted  12  points  and 12  rebounds  for  Houston ...  Howard
 recorded  five alley-oop dunks ... Houston pummeled Boston, 109-85, on Nov. 19
 and  swept  the two-game  season series  for the first  time since the 2010-11
 season   ... Boston last  lost nine in  a row during a franchise-worst 18-game
 slide from Jan. 7 - Feb. 11, 2007 ... Houston will close its trek Wednesday at
 New Orleans.
 
 
 
 01/13 23:28:39 ET