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Magic Makes Deficit Disappear
BOSTON (BASN) — The Boston Celtics, still struggling to capture their early season form, relented to the Orlando Magic’s trapping defense, as the Magic outscored the Celtics 19-0 at one stretch in the game to pull out a 96-89 victory at TD Garden Sunday afternoon.
The Magic outscored the Celtics 36-11 in the third quarter with most of the points coming off a barrage of 3-pointers.
Shooting 55% from beyond the arc in the third quarter helped turn a 51-40 Orlando deficit into a 14-point lead (76-62) at the end of the quarter.
It was an important game for the Celtics, who had already suffered a loss in Orlando last week and also fell to the Lakers and the Hawks in the next two games.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers was hoping for a good performance from his team, especially with the return of Captain Paul Pierce, who missed two games because of a sprained ankle, and swingman, Marquis Daniels, who had missed the last 28 games with a hand injury.
Rajon Rondo had a great first half, penetrating the Orlando defense made for a long day for Orlando guard, Jameer Nelson, who had to sit out a game against Milwaukee earlier in the week because of a hyperextended left knee.
Though guarding Rondo is a difficult assignment for most guards in the NBA, Nelson was able to carry his team with some key baskets in the first quarter.
“It was big,” is how Nelson described the victory.
“Especially after the third quarter the other day and the third quarter we had today.
It was total opposite, we came out with a lot of energy and we came out with a focus and a purpose.”
” I think we did a good job just sticking with the game plan no matter what the score was.
We have a tendency to go away from things as a team when things aren’t working out.”
“Not saying they weren’t working out in the first half, we just knew we had to play our game, cut the turnovers down and take good shots, and defend them as best we could, mainly just keeping Rondo out of the paint.”
Nelson finished the game with 15 points and four assists.
Pierce, who scored nine points in the first half, finished the game shooting 5-for-12 from the field and 1-for-6 from the three-point line, and showed some affects from his ailing foot.
“The foot was a little bit sore but I don’t think it affected too much of my movement,” said Pierce after the game.
“Like I said, it’s soreness on the top part of my foot so as far as my lateral movement up and down it really didn’t matter.”
One bright spot for the Celtics was the return of Daniels.
He played well and made an impact after coming into the game, scoring on his first two shots and helping the Celtics to a small lead. Working with the second unit was important, Daniels said, “It was good. I think that we came out with lots of energy.”
“We just have to get the team to work and get better.”
Coach Rivers was pleased to have Daniels back in the lineup, finally able to add a veteran off the bench who could move the ball, defend and shoot.
“Yes, Coach wanted me to come out and be aggressive,” Daniels continued.
“I just wanted to come out and do the regular things that I normally do.
They were giving me shots and I was just trying to take them, and be aggressive.”
The Celtics started the third quarter maintaining an eight point lead with two big baskets by Kevin Garnett.
At the 5:58 mark of the third, Dwight Howard picked up his fourth foul.
Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, not sure if he should take out his power center, decided to gamble and keep Howard on the floor.
“We’ve done that several times,” said Van Gundy.
“To be quite honest with you, it comes down this simple, we’re behind to begin with, my thing is that if he picks up his fifth then we’re gonna have to deal with it because I just think our chances of winning if he’s gonna be limited to you know 20 minutes or something we’re gonna have a hard time on the road beating the Celtics.”
” He’s a smart guy anyways and you just sort of gamble that he gonna be able to do it. Sometimes it works, sometime it doesn’t. But to me it wasn’t even much of a decision today.”
” My only decision was late third quarter, do we give him a break there but we were playing too well at that point so, I was just gonna run with it.
Like I always say, I didn’t think they left Pedro in too long.”
” I’m serious, you go with your guys and at the end of the day if that doesn’t work, he gets his fifth you guys can second guess me.
But, I’m gonna have a big problem with that, as if I take him out the whole third quarter, we’re down 15 going into the fourth and he comes back in.”
“I’d have a problem with myself on that one.
We needed to get him some minutes.”
With the Magic within three points, Rashard Lewis hit a 3-pointer at the 4:34 mark of the third to tie the game at 60.
A short time later, two more shots from beyond the arc by Lewis, a dunk by Howard, and a layup by Nelson, and the next thing you know, the Magic took possession of a 10- point lead.
The beginning of the fourth quarter was more of the same for Orlando with Mickael Peitrus, Matt Barnes and Vince Carter now chipping in.
The Celtics did mount a strong comeback with 5:14 left in the fourth quarter, but ran out of steam.
The Garden faithful started to exit at 3:12 left in the game, with the Celtics down by 12 points.
Boston has some major problems to work out as they approach the All-Star break, and Coach Rivers understand that the Celts have some work to do.
But he is optimistic.
“You know, you have a whole work of art right now,” said Rivers.
“There is a bunch of quarters or halves.
We just – tend to relax and let our guard down.
And you know – like one of the guys said, ‘We’re better than Orlando.’ And I said, “No you’re not.
That’s a bunch of crap.”
“They beat you three games.
Two at your place.
They knocked you out of the playoffs last year.
Orlando’s better than us right now.
Atlanta’s better than us right now.
LA’s better than us right now.”
“Those are the teams that have beaten us.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t be better than them at some point.
But right now, those teams are better than us.”
Their next game is Wednesday on the road at New Orleans.
Maybe the All-Star break is just what the Celtics need to find themselves and that winning spirit.