NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, January 31st (All times eastern)
Houston Rockets (24-21) at Boston Celtics (21-23), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Atlantic Division-leading Boston Celtics go for their fourth win in five games tonight, when they tangle with the Houston Rockets at the FleetCenter.
Boston is hanging on to a half-game lead over Philadelphia in the Atlantic after posting a 101-97 victory over Chicago on Saturday at the United Center. Ricky Davis scored 24 points and Gary Payton added 23 in the big victory.
Paul Pierce ended with 18 points and 15 rebounds despite making only 2-of-12 from the floor for the Celtics, who have won five of their last eight games. Pierce made up for his poor shooting by going 13-of-17 from the foul line. Raef LaFrentz rounded out Boston's double-digit scorers with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Prior to the game, Boston activated forward Tom Gugliotta from the IL. Gugliotta, who had been sidelined with a right ankle sprain, played six minutes and scored two points.
The Celtics shot 43 percent in the game, including 9-of-18 (.500) from three- point range. Boston drained 32-of-41 (.788) from the free throw line in the victory.
Boston, which has won four of five and nine of its last 11 home tilts, is 14-7 in its friendly confines this season. The Celtics are opening up a three-game homestand tonight.
Houston has dropped consecutive contests, including Sunday's 104-95 defeat to the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Tracy McGrady paced the Rockets with 28 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Yao Ming chipped in 22 points, while Bob Sura added 21 in the loss.
Sura exited late in the game with a left hand injury. The talented guard is questionable for tonight's contest.
Juwan Howard chipped in 10 points for Houston, which hit 43.2 percent from the field in the loss. The Rockets managed to hit just 5-of-22 (.227) from behind the arc and drained 20-of-21 (.952) from the charity stripe.
The Rockets lost the opener of their four-game road trip. They will also visit Boston, Philadelphia and Minnesota Timberwolves on the current swing. Houston is 10-10 in foreign buildings this season.
These teams split a pair of meetings last season with the road team taking both games. Houston has won seven of nine and 10 of the last 14 meetings in this set. The Rockets have won their last three trips to Beantown.
01/31 10:09:19 ET