HOUSTON (AP) — Paul Pierce scored 26 points, Ray Allen hit five 3-pointers and had 19 points, and the Boston Celtics snapped Houston’s four-game winning streak with a 94-87 victory over the Rockets on Friday night.
Kevin Garnett added 15 points, and Rajon Rondo had 10 assists for the Celtics, who smothered high-scoring Houston point guard Aaron Brooks and held the Rockets to 39.5 percent shooting (30 of 76). Brooks, coming off back-to-back 31-point games, was held to 10 on 4-for-12 shooting and failed to hit a 3 for the first time in 40 games.
Boston remained tied with Atlanta for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks beat Charlotte on Friday night.
Luis Scola and Kevin Martin scored 17 points apiece for the Rockets.
Boston trailed early, then hit nine of its last 14 shots of the first quarter to take a 28-24 lead.
The Celtics’ reserves held Houston scoreless for the first 3 minutes of the second quarter and extended the lead to nine. Chase Budinger’s dunk with 8:23 left in the half snapped a string of 11 straight misses for the Rockets.
Scola, who led Houston with 13 first-half points, left with his third foul with 2 minutes left before halftime. Brooks, guarded well by Rondo most of the night, had only two points at the break on 1-for-3 shooting.
Houston shot 32.5 percent (13 of 40) in the first half and trailed 50-41. Allen, Garnett and Pierce combined for 28 points in the first half.
Pierce went to the bench with his fourth foul early in the third quarter, and the Rockets launched an 11-2 spurt. Brooks tipped in a Scola miss before Martin and Trevor Ariza hit consecutive 3s to tie it at 52.
Allen hit three 3-pointers over the next 4 minutes, but Martin and Ariza converted steals into breakaways to keep Houston close. But the Rockets missed their last five shots of the third quarter, and Boston stretched it to 72-62 by the start of the fourth.
Kyle Lowry replaced the ineffective Brooks in the final quarter, and the Rockets cut the deficit to four with 8 minutes remaining. Pierce scored inside, then hit two free throws with 7:23 left to put Boston up 79-71.
He sank back-to-back 3s to give the Celtics an 88-77 lead with about 5 minutes left, and fans started filing for the exits.
NOTES: The Rockets are 0-9 when they score fewer than 90 points this season. … Pierce played in his 871st game with Boston, tying Sam Jones for ninth on the Celtics’ career list. … The Celtics and Rockets were playing for the first time this season. They will meet again in Boston on April 2. … Houston F Jordan Hill blocked a career-high five shots. … The Celtics were 10 for 23 from 3-point range.