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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, March 18th (All times eastern)

Boston Celtics (53-13) at Houston Rockets (46-20), 9:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The last time the Houston Rockets lost the NFL season was still going on. Tonight they will try to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 23 games in the finale of a three-game homestand versus the Boston Celtics at the Toyota Center.

Houston extended the second-longest winning streak in NBA history with a 104-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. Rafer Alston put forth an excellent effort with a career-high eight three-pointers for 31 points, while registering five assists and two steals for the Rockets, whose 22-game winning streak only trails the amazing 33-game run by the 1971-72 Lakers.

The last time the Rockets did not reach the win column was a 97-89 home loss versus the Utah Jazz on January 27. At that time, the New York Giants were preparing to play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Bobby Jackson ended with 19 points and Shane Battier added 14 in the win over Los Angeles, as Houston took over sole possession of the top spot in the highly-competitive Western Conference. The Lakers are now a game off the lead.

The Rockets have ripped off 15 consecutive victories as the host and improved to 10-0 without All-Star center Yao Ming. Yao is done for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot for Houston, which owns a 26-9 mark at the Toyota Center in 2007-08.

Houston is one game ahead of New Orleans in the Southwest Division.

Boston will resume a five-game road trip on Tuesday, and is 24-8 away from TD Banknorth Garden this season. The Celtics are 2-0 so far on the trek and have won six straight as the guest, including Monday's 93-91 victory over the defending-champion San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center.

Paul Pierce finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Boston, which has won 12 of its last 13 games and sits comfortably atop the Eastern Conference standings. Kevin Garnett added 21 points and eight boards in a winning effort.

The Celtics will also visit Dallas and New Orleans on the current swing. On the injury front for Boston, guard Ray Allen is doubtful for Tuesday's game with a bruised left heel.

Tuesday's showdown between Boston and Houston is the second and final meeting of the regular season. The Celtics won the first encounter, 97-93, on January 2 at TD Banknorth Garden. Garnett scored 26 points and made a key jumper in the final minute to lead the way.

Boston has won four of the last six meetings with Houston, but has lost seven of 10 and nine of the previous 15 on the road in this series.

03/18 10:47:40 ET

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