Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - In the absence of Dwight Howard, Donatas Motiejunas had a career night to keep the Houston Rockets' winning streak alive.
Motiejunas scored a career-high 26 points with 12 rebounds to lead the Rockets to a 93-87 win over the Boston Celtics.
Howard missed his third straight game with a knee injury. The team revealed earlier in the week that Howard is suffering from edema in the knee caused by fluid build-up in body tissues.
Josh Smith deposited 15 points and James Harden added 14 with seven assists and six rebounds for Houston, which has won four straight both overall and in the series with Boston.
Brandon Bass and Marcus Thornton each scored 17 points for the Celtics. Boston has lost three of its last four.
Bass capped a 9-2 run with a pair of free throws to help the Celtics, who were down as many as 19 earlier in the game, close to within three just past the midway point of the fourth. Motiejunas then slammed one home to end a 4:20 scoreless drought for the visitors.
"I thought we played with much more urgency," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens of the second half.
Avery Bradley made it a one-possession game again with a jumper, but it was Montiejunas who responded with a layup that kept the Rockets in front.
The Celtics had numerous opportunities to get closer in the final minutes, however, Smith's free throws put the Rockets up seven with 51.6 seconds to play.
Thornton's layup preceded an offensive foul by Harden that trimmed the Boston deficit to 90-87 with 27 seconds left. Corey Brewer converted a pair of free throws before Bradley's missed 3-pointer sealed it for the visitors.
Harden made a four-point play with under a minute left in the first to stake the Rockets to an 11-point lead, then Thornton responded at the other end with a three-point play to make it a 29-21 game entering the second.
Houston continued to generate offense at a quick pace in the second quarter. The Rockets missed their first two shots of the frame, but made eight of their next nine attempts as the margin reached 46-33 after a Trevor Ariza layup.
The lead was as many as 19 in the quarter and they led 60-42 at the break.
Houston then had a woeful third quarter, shooting 4-of-20 from the floor and getting outscored 22-9. Boston scored 10 points off eight turnovers in the frame.
"We just played bad. We made bad decisions," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
Smith also had 10 rebounds in the win ... Houston has won nine of its last 11 against Boston ... Boston shot 35.6 percent from the floor ... The Rockets held a 46-32 edge in the paint.