CELTICS NOTEBOOKHIDALGO, Texas - The night hatched with the spirit of a minor league fiesta. A mariachi band performed the national anthem, and Houston Rockets cheerleaders and their counterparts from the NBDL's Rio Grande Valley Vipers as well as four different mascots roamed the sidelines.

Rasheed Wallace shouted at the replacement refs and gave the crowd a charge by picking up his first technical foul as a Celtic, and Kevin Garnett seemingly didn't lose a step during his absence.

Beyond all the frills and thrills, that was the most important development to come out of the Celtics' 96-90 loss to Houston in last night's exhibition opener.

The Celtics forward, recovering from knee surgery, hit his first two shots - a pair of 20-footers - and finished with six points, five rebounds and two steals in 13 minutes.

Doc Rivers pulled him off the floor early in the third quarter, when Garnett showed clear signs of exhaustion. His work has barely begun.

``I was like a kid in a candy store running around with his head cut off a bit out there, but it's coming,'' Garnett said after sitting with his right leg in a large therapeutic boot. ``It felt good. Sprint-wise I'm not where I want to be, but the progress is there.

``For the most part I wasn't hesitant out there,'' he said. ``I wanted to stay in, but that's not up to me. It's not something that's going to change overnight.''

Perhaps the most encouraging sign was Garnett's ability to bounce back up after getting fouled while front-rimming a dunk attempt off Rajon Rondo's alley-oop pass.

``It just felt good to be in the gym and have my jersey on,'' he said. ``I know that a lot of responsibility comes with that.''

Allen sits it out

Tony Allen, battling since the start of camp in his recovery from right ankle surgery, was back on the sidelines last night.

``He can't go here, so he won't go tonight,'' Rivers said of Allen's inactivity during yesterday morning's shootaround. ``He's coming along. But nothing you can do about it.''

Rocket revenge

The joke was that the Rockets scheduled the game in a little town on the Mexican border as revenge for having to play the Celtics last year in Manchester, N.H.

``Yeah, this is called Rocket revenge,'' Rivers said. ``They went to Manchester, so they send us to the furthest place they could take us in the country, and they cut it very close.''

Paul Pierce wasn't even thinking about crossing the border.

``I think I'd be scared,'' he said. ``You keep hearing stories about all of those drug cartels, and tourists getting jacked, and people pushing drugs. I'm gonna stay right at home, man.''

In more immediate terms, the Celtics have inherited a minor logistical headache by taking this trip.

``I thought we should have gone from here to Portland, and then maybe gone overseas,'' Rivers joked. ``Honestly the scheduling of this is not one of the better things. A 4 1/2-hour flight for an exhibition game.''

``Honestly, it kills the next two days. You get back at five in the morning, so that day is a blown day of practice.''

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Added: October 9, 2009


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