HOUSTON, Jan. 13 (Ticker) -- Steve Francis
collected 26 points and nine
assists and Cuttino Mobley
scored 24 points as the Houston
Rockets defeated the struggling Boston Celtics, 101-92, for
their fourth win in five games.
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celebrated his 26th birthday with 12 points and nine
rebounds in his first start for Houston, which put Glen Rice
the injured list earlier in the day.
"My wind was a little suspect out there, I just try to provide a
little energy," said Posey, who was acquired from Denver on
December 18. "I'm trying to find my niche."
Rookie sensation Yao Ming
, who suffered a knee injury in the
first quarter of Saturday's win in Denver, chipped in 10 points,
including a three-point play with 3:46 left in the third
quarter that gave the Rockets the lead for good, 64-61.
Yao's basket interrupted an 11-0 run by the Celtics, who lost
for the fifth time in six games.
Boston stayed close, pulling within 89-87 on a layup by Antoine
with 2:25 left. But Francis made a pair of free throws
to ignite a 10-3 burst that iced the victory.
"We're good when we get the ball up the court before we have to
set up," Francis said. "I haven't been scoring 30, but I've
been consistent. It was a see-saw match."
scored 24 points and rookie J.R. Bremer
season-high 22 in his first start for Boston, which has dropped
six straight in Houston.
"I'm very pleased with my play," Bremer said. "Coach told me
that I was going to play more and I came out aggressively and
The Celtics took their only lead, 4-2, before falling behind by
as many as 13 points in the opening quarter. They trailed by 15
in the second period before rallying within 50-46 at the break.
Pierce and Bremer hit 3-pointers to close the half for the
Boston shot just 40 percent (36-of-89) from the field but stayed
in it with long-range shooting. The Celtics were 14-of-33 (42
percent) from the arc.
"They're so tough to play, everybody can shoot the ball," Mobley
said. "We had our fun and jacked up some shots. That's the
thing about Yao (being double-teamed) - when you have a guy who
attracts so much attention down there, it helps us out."
Walker finished with 23 points, sinking 4-of-7 from 3-point
range but just 9-of-22 overall.
"This is a down point for us," Walker said. "We have to pick it
up and get some wins before the All-Star break."
Houston regained its double-digit lead in the third quarter when
Posey hit a 3-pointer for a 61-50 advantage with 6:07 to go.
But Bremer hit a bucket and the Celtics nailed a trio of
3-pointers, including one by Walker that tied it with 4:09
After Yao answered, Boston was unable to pull even but remained
within four points for more than 14 minutes until Mobley's
bucket made it 93-88 with 1:21 to play. Mobley had 10 points in
the final period.
Yao was 4-of-7 from the field and blocked five shots as the
Rockets shot 50 percent (37-of-74) and held a 45-33 rebounding
"We played good enough to win, but the Rockets hit some tough
shots, and that was the ballgame," Pierce said. "Last year,
these are games we would have won."