Celtics entertain McHale, Rockets

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A pair of hot teams meet Friday night when the Boston Celtics welcome an old friend back to town, although he's guiding the Houston Rockets.

Kevin McHale, a Hall of Famer who played his entire career with the Boston Celtics and had his number 32 retired, is back as the head coach of the Rockets, winners in five of their last six.

When the Celtics fell to the Rockets on Dec. 14, it was shortly after McHale returned to the bench following the death of his daughter Sasha. After the game, Kevin Garnett came over to McHale, the man who drafted him when he ran the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the two shared an emotional embrace.

It should be a little more business-like on Friday.

The Celtics have won four straight, including an 87-79 victory Wednesday night at home over the Phoenix Suns. That started a five-game homestand for the Celtics.

The starters struggled against the Suns with only Garnett in double-digits. Jared Sullinger and Jason Terry netted double figures off the bench and so did Jeff Green.

It was a special day for Green as Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of his open-heart surgery.

"I can't put it into words. I mean, it's a wonderful day. I had a good game, I'm just glad to be here," he said.

The Rockets' five-game winning streak was snapped Wednesday at the New Orleans Hornets in the first of a three-game road trip which ends on Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Rockets are the NBA's leading scoring team at 106 ppg. They were held a whopping 27 points under their average by a Hornets team, which is 12th in opponents' scoring.

Houston committed 23 turnovers and allowed 16 offensive rebounds.

"Anytime a team gets that many offensive rebounds it's hard to run. Then you have all those turnovers we had - they had 39 of their 88 points off of offensive rebounds or turnovers," said McHale. "We were just not sharp tonight. We didn't make the extra pass, defensively we didn't do what we had to do."

James Harden was the only Rockets player in double figures with 25 points.

The Rockets have won five of their last seven against the Celtics and have taken three of their last four visits to Beantown.