The lowly Boston Celtics are closing in on another dubious franchise record.

The Celtics will try to avoid tying a 28-year old mark for consecutive road losses when they meet the Houston Rockets on Monday night at the Toyota Center.

Boston (13-42), which owns the league's worst record, got 19 points from leading scorer Paul Pierce but lost its 12th straight on the road after falling 105-87 at Utah on Saturday. The Celtics, who posted their last road win on Jan. 5 at Memphis, dropped their final 13 road games in 1978-79 to set the mark.

Houston also hasn't been a good place for the Celtics as they've dropped seven of their last nine visits there.

Boston's current road woes are part of a dismal stretch during which it's lost 22 of 23, including a franchise-record 18 consecutive losses from Jan. 7-Feb. 11. The lone victory was a 117-97 win at home over Milwaukee on Feb. 14, but since then the Celtics have dropped all four games on a season high-tying five-game road trip by an average of 14.3 points.

Despite their recent poor play on the road, the Celtics have a better record away from home. Still, Boston's eight road wins tie it with Milwaukee and Philadelphia for fewest in the Eastern Conference.

Pierce leads the Celtics with 25.5 points per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field, has not played well in his last two games. In a 122-96 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday and the loss to Utah, Pierce is averaging only 17.0 points while shooting 30.0 percent from the field.

"(What happened against Utah) has been the story of our season," Pierce told the Boston Globe's Web site. "I never expect to lose ever when I play basketball. It's just frustrating times right now."

Pierce, who's averaging 24.0 points in six career games at Houston, needs only six points to reach 15,000 for his career.

Celtics forward Wally Szczerbiak, the team's second-leading scorer at 15.0 points, is expected to miss his fourth straight game with an ankle injury.

Houston (35-20) hopes it can take advantage of the Celtics' woes and improve its 20-7 home mark, which includes four wins in five games there.

The Rockets returns home after avoiding a season-high third straight road loss with a 97-93 win at Orlando on Sunday. Former Magic star Tracy McGrady finished with 34 points and Rafer Alston had five of Houston's 14 3-pointers.

"That's pretty much who we are," McGrady said. "When teams double me, my job is to make the right play for our team. We did a great job of spacing the floor and getting open behind the 3-point line. It's even sweeter when we're knocking the shots down."

McGrady has been the catalyst for the Rockets, averaging 28.6 points in 27 games since center Yao Ming went down with a broken leg on Dec. 23. He's not expected back until early next month.

Until then, McGrady may have to continue his impressive scoring output. The All-Star swingman has scored at least 30 points five times in his career against Boston.


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