HOUSTON — It took the NBA's best team to end the Houston Rockets' 22-game winning streak.
Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics stopped the Rockets' remarkable run in emphatic fashion Tuesday night, pulling away in the second half for a 94-74 victory.
Garnett scored 22 points and Paul Pierce had 20 as Boston handed Houston its first loss since a 97-89 defeat to Utah on Jan. 27. The Rockets then put together the NBA's second-longest winning streak, which ended 11 victories shy of the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
"Our names will be mentioned there with Hall of Fame people," said Houston point guard Rafer Alston. "We have something to tell our kids."
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It was Houston's second loss in 28 games and its fourth since a 97-93 loss in Boston on Jan. 2, a game Tracy McGrady sat out with a knee injury. The Rockets also lost for the first time in 11 games since Yao Ming went out with a season-ending foot injury on Feb. 26.
The Rockets were finally doomed by poor shooting and mistakes that they overcame during their streak with hustle and solid defense.
"I'm too close to the situation right now to really appreciate," Rockets forward Shane Battier said. "When I'm old and gray and can't dribble this basketball anymore, I think I'll appreciate it. Right now, we're still in a playoff run and have got some dogs barking at our heels."
Boston blanketed McGrady all night, holding Houston's remaining All-Star to eight points on 4-for-11 shooting. Other Rockets had routinely picked up the slack during the seven-week run whenever McGrady struggled, but the Celtics never let that happen.
"It's not disappointed," McGrady said. "It's a hell of a team over there. They outplayed us. I've never seen a defense like that. I mean, if they play defense like that, night in and night out, the NBA is in trouble because that was defense at its finest."
Luis Scola scored 15 for Houston, which had a 15-game home streak snapped. Only the 1985-86 Rockets, who won 20 in a row at The Summit, had a longer home-court streak in franchise history.
LAKERS 102, MAVERICKS 100, at Dallas — Kobe Bryant scored 29 points, and Los Angeles held on to snap Dallas' five-game winning streak. The Lakers led by 25 points midway through the third quarter, but were up only 101-100 with 4.8 seconds left. The Mavericks fell to 0-6 against teams with winning records since adding Jason Kidd.
PISTONS 136, NUGGETS 120, at Auburn Hills, Mich. — Richard Hamilton scored 24 points to help Detroit beat Denver, which was coming off a record-setting 168-116 victory over Seattle. It was Detroit's offense that took over Tuesday: The Pistons scored a season-high 73 points in the first half.
SUNS 111, TRAIL BLAZERS 98, at Portland, Ore. — Amare Stoudemire scored 25 points, Shaquille O'Neal had 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Phoenix beat Portland for its fifth consecutive win. The Suns remained a game behind the division-leading Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific.
HEAT 112, BUCKS 106, at Milwaukee — Jason Williams and Ricky Davis had double-doubles, Chris Quinn hit three crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Miami snapped an 0-for-March streak.
BULLS 112, NETS 96, at Chicago — Luol Deng scored 20 points to help Chicago survive a sluggish third quarter (outscored 34-21) and pull away to beat New Jersey.
TIP-INS — Toronto All-Star forward Chris Bosh plans to be back on the court today against Miami. Bosh posted the news on his Web site Tuesday, saying "Great news! Fresh off the press! I'm playing tomorrow!" The Los Angeles Lakers have finally put a timetable on the return of center Andrew Bynum: probably the first round of the playoffs. He has been out since Jan. 13, when he dislocated his left kneecap and bruised a bone.