HOUSTON (AP) -- The Boston Celtics are playing their best
basketball. So well, in fact, that they went on the road and ended
Houston's six-game winning streak.
"We are becoming an elite team and we are doing it because guys
are sacrificing and sharing the ball," Paul Pierce said after Mark
Blount came off the bench and matched his season high with 22
points to lead the Celtics to their season-best sixth straight
victory, 103-92 over the Rockets on Friday night.
Boston has won 10 of its last 11.
"This was another test for us. Houston was as hot as us, and
maybe even hotter, and we came in and got the win," Pierce added.
The Celtics never trailed after the first minute of play and led
comfortably for most of the game.
"It was a great game for us and a test of where our team is,"
Ricky Davis said. "Houston has been playing really well lately,
but we had it the whole game. We were making our shots and playing
together as a team."
"Mark Blount was great for us. He really helped open our
offense by hitting his outside shots," Boston coach Doc Rivers
said. "We did a great job of executing our offense. We wanted to
run a lot of pick-and-rolls to push Yao Ming away from the basket
and keep him from moving around.
"I loved the way our defense played and we had only 10
turnovers," Rivers added.
McGrady and Yao agreed that Boston's execution of the
pick-and-roll was a key factor.
"They were hot tonight. They did a good job or working the
pick-and-rolls and they were making shots," McGrady explained.
"We did a lot of things wrong tonight and we couldn't put the ball
in the basket. Even with myself, I was missing layups. What
happened tonight we can't let happen again."
After trailing by 14 at the end of the third quarter, Houston
briefly threatened a comeback, cutting Boston's lead to 97-88 with
2:12 left after consecutive baskets by Bob Sura. But the Rockets
never got closer.
Boston led 28-22 going into the second period and held a 35-30
advantage with 6:51 left in the half. The Celtics then went on a
16-3 scoring run, six by Davis, to lead 51-33 before Houston cut
its deficit to 56-42 at the half.
Boston increased its lead in the third period, outscoring
Houston 21-19. Blount scored three straight baskets to give the
Celtics their biggest lead of the game, 76-55. Boston led 77-61
going into the final period.
Houston dropped to 30-12 when Sura starts ... David Wesley
has scored 20 or more points in three of his last five games after
scoring 20 or more only once in his first 32 games with the Rockets
... Boston is 15-4 when Paul Pierce has six or more assists ... The
Celtics are 20-6 when they hold their opponent to less than 100
points ... Houston shot a season low 65.6 from the free throw line.