HOUSTON - Defending NBA champions Boston beat Houston 103-99 on Tuesday to hand the Rockets their first loss of the season.
Houston Rockets Yao Ming reacts to a call in first quarter NBA action against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, Texas October 30, 2008. [Agencies]
Ray Allen scored 29 points as the Celtics improved to 3-1 while the Rockets suffered their first defeat after opening the season with three consecutive victories.
Allen felt the Celtics were motivated by Saturday's embarrassing 95-79 loss at Indiana.
"We needed to come out here and do the things we do that make us successful," Allen told reporters.
"We were coming off a bad loss and we responded to that against a very good basketball team."
Boston's Big Three of Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce once again led the way for the Celtics, combining for 56 points and 25 rebounds while containing Houston's high-tempo offence for most of the game.
Houston's Ron Artest had 15 points but made just three of his 16 shots against the Celtics pressing defense.
"We did not play well at all," Artest said. "Usually you can say you've got to give them credit. But there were things that we could've done better to pull out the victory."
The Celtics shot 52 percent to just 39 percent for the Rockets, but still needed to fend off a late Houston comeback.
Tracy McGrady led the Rockets with 26 points, while Luis Scola had 21 points and nine rebounds. Yao Ming was held to just eight points and seven rebounds.
"Probably one of my worst games of all time," Yao said.