HIDALGO, Texas -- Kevin Garnett went down. Luckily for Boston, it was only for a second.
Garnett hit the floor after missing on an attempted alley-oop just over five minutes into the preseason opener against Houston on Wednesday night. To the Celtics' relief, he quickly got back up and hit two free throws.
Garnett scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in the Rockets' 96-90 victory. Garnett, playing for the first time since aggravating a right knee injury last March 25, scored all six points in the first quarter, helping Boston build an early lead before the Rockets rallied late.
Garnett left the game for good with 6:44 left in the third quarter.
"For the most part, it felt great to be out there," Garnett said. "I came in here and looked at my jersey before I put it on. That's one of those small things you never take things for granted. It's just real fortunate for my opportunity. Tonight was fun."
Aaron Brooks scored 21 for the Rockets, who trailed by five entering the fourth quarter, then outscored Boston 26-15 to rally for the victory.
David Andersen scored seven points in the final 2:48 for the Rockets. Houston acquired the 6-11 Australian after determining Yao Ming would miss the upcoming season after foot surgery.
"We had to adjust to the way the Celtics played," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "They are a very good defensive team. It was a good experience for our guys, being that we have a lot of new guys and young guys."
Garnett underwent knee surgery in May and the Celtics lost to Orlando in the second round of the playoffs.
Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett started for Boston, while Houston's opening lineup included projected reserves Brian Cook and Kyle Lowry.
Garnett swished two perimeter jumpers in the first two minutes. Rasheed Wallace, who signed with the Celtics in July, replaced Kendrick Perkins a few minutes later.
Wallace is eager to see how he meshes with Garnett, forming an imposing frontcourt.
"It's going to work out to be dangerous," Wallace said. "He's excited, he's ready to go. I feel the same way. I'm always hyped up. I'm playing with a good team, I'm playing with a bunch of guys who know how to play this game."
Pierce and Garnett each scored six points in about nine minutes of action in the first half, and Boston led 51-41 at the break.
The Celtics' starters were back on the floor in the third quarter, but the Rockets opened with a 17-6 run to take a one-point lead.
Wallace earned a technical foul with 6:14 left in the third quarter after he was whistled for fouling Trevor Ariza. Brooks sank the free throw to tie it at 57-all and Ariza's free throw gave Houston its first lead.
Andersen replaced Joey Dorsey with 3:48 left in the game and hit a jump shot and converted a three-point play over the next 90 seconds.
The game was played at Dodge Arena, home of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League. The Rockets purchased operating rights of the team over the summer.