Monday night the Boston Celtics humiliated the Orlando Magic in front of Boston fans at the “New Garden” as the Celtics won by the lopsided score of 87-56. Thursday night the two teams matched-up once again; this time at the Amway Center in Orlando. The Magic players had fire in their eyes in the first 24 minutes of action as they were determined not only to win the contest; but to pay the Celtics back for the embarrassment they felt on Monday night.
Orlando appeared that they were on their way to making their goal a reality as they would be on top by double-digits at the end of the first quarter and led by as many as 27 points in the second before settling for a 21 point advantage at the half. When the two opponents returned to the floor for the third quarter, Boston found their shooting touch and intensified their play at the defensive end. The visitors outscored their hosts 54-25 in the second half; holding the Magic to just eight points in the final period as the Celtics completed their dramatic come from behind victory by a final tally of 91-83.
Orlando for the second time this week were stymied by the Boston defense as they shot just 38% (30-79) from the floor for the contest. All five Magic starters scored in double-figures led by Dwight Howard who notched a double-double with 16 points and 16 boards. It would not be enough to get by the “Green Team” as Paul Pierce racked up a double-double with a game high 24 points and rookie guard E’Twaun Moore had a big game coming off the bench with 16 points.
With Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen still sidelined with injuries, Celtics coach Doc Rivers went with a big starting lineup Thursday night. Avery Bradley was the only guard on the floor along with Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Mickael Pietrus and Brandon Bass to start the game. The Magic took advantage of the squad’s lack of familiarity as playing as a unit and dominated the floor on both ends in the opening period. Jason Richardson drove the lane putting the ball up and in with 26 seconds remaining and Orlando held a 32-16 lead at the end of the quarter. With 3:11 left in the second Jameer Nelson stroked a trey giving his club a 52-25 advantage. The Celtics were able to erase some of their deficit bt the half; however they still had a mighty task ahead of them to get back into this game down 58-37.
Boston started the long process of digging themselves out of the hole they were in during the third. With 10 seconds left Pierce buried a 25 foot trey and Orlando’s lead had shrunk by 11 points with the score 75-64. The Celtics would open the fourth on a 15-1 run grabbing the upper hand at 7:39 as Moore drained a three point shot from 23 feet out giving his club the lead at 79-76. The Magic never regained their footing scoring just eight points in the period and the Celtics held on for the victory.
Pierce had 24 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds and a block while Moore came off the bench with 16 points, 3 rebounds and a block. Garnett also recorded a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks and 3 steals while Pietrus put up 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Bass added 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals and 1 assist.
Howard scored 16 points, 16 boards and 1 block while Richardson had 13 points and 3 steals. Ryan Anderson dropped 12 points, 4 rebounds, an assist and a block while Nelson added 11 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and a steal. Hedo Turkoglu chipped in 10 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Boston improves to 8-9 having won three straight games and four of their last five. They will host the Indiana Pacers on Friday while Orlando now have a record of 12-6 and they travel to New Orleans to take on the Hornets on Friday.