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NBA Game Summary - Boston at Houston

(Tuesday, March 18th)

Final Score: Boston 94, Houston 74

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Kevin Garnett led the way with 22 points and 11 rebounds, as Boston used strong inside play and defense to stop Houston's 22- game winning streak, 94-74, ending the second-longest victory surge in NBA history.

Leon Powe came off the bench for 21 points and Paul Pierce scored 20 for the Celtics, who dealt the Rockets their first defeat since January 27 at home against Utah.

In a matchup between the top two teams in the NBA, the Celtics limited the Rockets to their fewest points of the season and held standout Tracy McGrady to just eight points.

"All good things must come to an end," McGrady said. "It's not disappointing, it's a hell of a team over there. They outplayed us. I've never seen defense like that. I mean, if they play defense like that night in and night out then the NBA is in trouble because that was defense at its finest."

The Rockets' franchise-record win streak was well short of the Lakers' all- time 33-game run during the 1971-72 season.

The Celtics, who improved to 54-13 on the season, won their third straight overall and 13th in their last 14 contests. They also did it without shooting guard Ray Allen, who sat out his third straight game due to a jammed left ankle. Boston though dominated Houston inside, outscoring the Rockets, 52-34, in the paint.

Houston, which also had its 15-game home winning streak snapped, fell into a tie with the Lakers for the top spot in the Western Conference. That's because Los Angeles squeaked out a 102-100 win at Dallas on Tuesday.

Luis Scola had 15 points and eight rebounds, while Rafer Alston and Mike Harris each scored 12 and Aaron Brooks had 10 for Houston. McGrady also had seven rebounds and eight assists, but the Rockets were limited to 41.4 percent shooting, including a 5-of-19 clip from three-point range.

"It's disappointing the way we played offensively," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "We didn't move the ball, we didn't pass it quick enough and it just took us out of what we wanted to do in that third and fourth period."

What was even more remarkable about Houston's winning streak was that the final 10 games were without All-Star center Yao Ming, who is done for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot.

The true ending though for the Rockets came when Garnett threw down a thunderous jam with just over two minutes remaining for an 89-64 difference with Boston's bench applauding, although the Rockets did receive an applause from the franchise-record crowd of 18,409 at the end.

James Posey had 10 rebounds for Boston, which swept the season series from the Rockets, also earning a 97-93 home win on January 2...The Celtics are in line for a Texas sweep after beating San Antonio, 93-91, on Monday. They play at Dallas on Thursday.

"In the Spurs game last night to the opening tip, these games have been emotional," Garnett said. "We had that focus and intensity that will carry us these next few games. What they (Rockets) did deserves a lot of respect. We just had to come in and treat it like a playoff game."

The game was tied at 40 at the half, but Garnett hit a jumper and Pierce a three-pointer to start the third quarter. Dikembe Mutombo came back with a layup for Houston, but the Celtics didn't trail the rest of the game.

McGrady's jumper with 9:21 left in the quarter represented his final points of the night, but Rajon Rondo had six points during an 11-1 ensuing Boston run, which expanded the lead to 58-45. Kendrick Perkins' reverse layup capped the flurry, and the Celtics were ahead by double digits the remainder of the game.

Powe's layup culminated the third for a 72-56 margin, and another jumper from him finished nine straight Boston points for a 77-56 lead with under 10 minutes remaining.

The Rockets had no answers all night for Boston's inside play, and Garnett drove home a pair of slams in the final two minutes to accentuate the win.

Boston jumped to a 13-6 lead, but the Rockets bounced back with the next seven points and were ahead 22-21 after the opening quarter.

Things were in Houston's favor early in the second, as Bobby Jackson's jumper moved the home team to a 34-26 lead. Eddie House responded with a three- pointer though, and the Celtics had the final five points of the half.

"Every win is big for us," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "In the first game in San Antonio, everyone was pointing to this game. We couldn't get caught up in any game this road trip. We had great games from Leon, KG, Paul and James came in and pulled down 10 boards, so the energy came from unexpected places."

Game Notes

Boston guard Tony Allen took a hard fall after a flagrant foul on Scola late in the third quarter and didn't return. He was diagnosed with a bruised lower back...The Rockets play at New Orleans on Wednesday in the opener of a three-game road trip. The Hornets are a half-game back of the Rockets in the Southwest Division...It was a season-low for second-half points for Houston.

03/19 01:29:10 ET

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