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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James Posey celebrated his 26th birthday with 12 points and nine rebounds in his first start for Houston, which put Glen Rice on 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 Walker 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."

Paul Pierce scored 24 points and rookie J.R. Bremer added a 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 played hard."

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 Celtics.

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 remaining.

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 advantage.

"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."