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You ever been in a bar fight? Kevin Garnett has, on Thursday night to be exact. Garnett and his Boston Celtics overcame a tremendous amount of adversity -- trailing by 27 points in the first half while missing three starters -- to defeat the crumbling Orlando Magic, 91-83, on Thursday night.
Garnett spoke with TNT's Craig Sager (the guy with the weird suits), where he displayed an encouraging amount of emotion following the well-deserved victory. (Warning, as Garnett uses language inappropriate for children).
Garnett was asked by Sager if he believed Celtics head coach Doc Rivers when he told the team that they can come back, to which he said absolutely. During his time in Boston, Garnett said he has never been told anything by Doc that wasn't true. An encouraging sight for Celtics fans, as their emotional leader is back.
Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. Boston defeated the Orlando Magic, 91-83, on Thursday night at the Amway Center.
Twelve minutes into Thursday's game, I was already thinking up headlines. Something along the lines of "statement win." As it turns out, I was right - there was a statement win.
Only I had it pegged to the wrong team.
An 8-2 game-opening run aside, the Boston Celtics looked awful after one quarter against the Orlando Magic, a team they had blown out of the water by 31 points three days earlier. After one half, the Celtics found themselves down by 21 points, 58-37, after trailing by 27 points earlier in the second quarter. Basically, the game was over before it even began.
Quite the contrary. Boston outscored Orlando 27-17 in the third quarter and again torched their counterparts in the final quarter, outscoring them 27-8, to capture their second improbable victory of the week. And we aren't even done yet.
Boston basically willed itself to victory Thursday, feeding off the hot hands of Paul Pierce and E'Twaun Moore. All of this while the Celtics were missing three starters in Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Jermaine O'Neal. Impressive? You bet.
FLOOR GENERAL PAUL PIERCE ORCHESTRATES AMAZING CELTICS COMEBACK
Where would the Celtics be without The Truth. For starters, they wouldn't have won a championship in 2008 and would likely still be searching for their first title since 1986. But that's the long term picture. In the short term ... they'd still be lost.
Pierce has taken on a joint role during the absence of Rondo and Allen, doing both the scoring and the distributing. Moore and Avery Bradley may be the true point guards on the roster, but Pierce has ably proven himself in this role.
Once again, Pierce put his multitasking prowess in display against Orlando. In addition to leading the game with 24 points, Pierce ran the point for Boston and finished with 10 assists. Just to pile on, he also had six boards and a block.
Pierce had 19 of his 24 points in the second half and has found his stride in the last three games. Pierce had a Celtic season-high 34 points on Sunday, had 19 points on Monday and of course had 24 points in the win Thursday. Also, Pierce has been averaging eight assists over the last five games, four of which Rajon Rondo has been sidelined for.
Even at the ripe old age of 34, Pierce continues to do whatever it is the team requires to obtain a victory. As long as the Celtics have Pierce on the roster, there will be a chance for them to hang around in any game. He's definitely that good.
MOORE, MOORE, MOORE! HOW DO YOU LIKE IT? HOW DO YOU LIKE IT?
Sorry for the corny lead-in, but E'Twaum Moore was just that good in this one. Moore scored a career-high 16 points off the bench and made 4-of-4 three-pointers and 5-of-6 field goals.
Moore played a bench-high 18 minutes, and as you can see, he was effective. Moore wasn't just good, he was clutch. Moore hit a corner three (his fourth and final of the game) to give Boston its first lead since early in the first quarter, 79-76, with just over 7:30 left to play. It was all downhill from there for the Magic.
Pretty good stuff from a late second-round draft pick, huh? Moore's outing on Thursday was by far the best of his short career, and if it's a sign of things to come, Danny Ainge and the Celtics may have found an absolute steal.
AMAZING FINISH ASIDE, CELTICS CLEARLY NEED STARS BACK BADLY
The comeback and win were amazing, without question. But as Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said after the game, the Celtics can't keep doing this. In short, they really need Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Jermaine O'Neal to be productive.
With all three in the lineup, it's obvious that the Celtics have a better chance of staying in games and ultimately winning. Until Allen went down with a jammed left ankle, he was the Celtics' leading scorer through the early part of the season. Rondo, meanwhile, was second in scoring and led the team in assists and steals. O'Neal leads the C's in blocks.
Sure, they have fared pretty well without the pair of Allen and Rondo recently. But we all know that can't last forever. In the meantime, it's encouraging to see Boston succeeding without its stars. Encouraging, but not ideal.
BOTTOM LINE: Thursday's game was about as impressive as Monday's. The victory wasn't as big from a point differential standpoint, but from a heart standpoint, it was better. Even with this aging core of superstars, the Celtics have proven that they can still get up for big games and overcome adversity when necessary.
NEXT UP: No rest for the weary, as the Celtics return home to face the Indiana Pacers on Friday night -- a team that they have already lost to twice this season. Boston traditionally doesn't do well in back-to-backs, so anything goes.
Hold the phone, Danny Ainge. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the injury-ridden Boston Celtics have made a very strong statement this past week: they may be getting older, but the will to win (and a good amount of talent, too) is still there.
In this case, the headline above doesn't do this game justice. Trailing by 27 points in the first half, the Boston Celtics appeared to be done for. Boston fell behind 58-37 at halftime.
It was pretty much in the books. Except for the fact that the Celtics weren't done yet.
Paul Pierce (24 points) led a valiant second-half comeback as Boston erased their 27-point deficit to pull off a tremendous 91-83 victory over the Orlando Magic for their second straight victory on Thursday night at the Amway Center in Orlando.
Boston (8-9) has now won two straight against Orlando (12-6), as it also posted an 87-56 blowout victory on Monday night at TD Garden. The victory on Thursday night gave the Celtics the victory in the three-game season series with Orlando this year.
E'Twaun Moore played a pivotal role in the win, scoring a career-high 16 points of the bench to spark the Celtics. Kevin Garnett and Mickael Pietrus each had 12 points and Brandon Bass added 10 points. The Celtics were playing without three starters -- Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Jermaine O'Neal -- and lost Keyon Dooling early in the game.
Dwight Howard got into early foul trouble and finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Jason Richardson scored 13, Ryan Anderson had 12 points, Jameer Nelson finished with 11 points and Hedo Turkoglu totaled 10 points in the loss.
It didn't take long for the Orlando Magic to get back into their groove. After falling behind 8-2 early, the Magic rattled off a 15-2 run and ultimately took a huge 58-37 lead over the Boston Celtics heading into halftime at the Amway Center.
The Celtics and Magic have appeared to trade roles from their game on Monday, when Boston cruised to a 31-point victory. Orlando shot percent from the field (22-of-44) while Boston was held to 38.2 percent shooting (13-for-34).
Mickael Pietrus, who missed Monday's game, led the Celtics with 11 points. Kevin Garnett had eight points, four boards and three assists and Paul Pierce totaled five points and three assists in the opening half for Boston.
Dwight Howard had four points and four boards in the half, in which he sat out a good chunk of the first quarter after the Magic took firm control of the game. Ryan Anderson leads all scorers with 12 points and Jason Richardson has 10 points. Glen Davis, the former Celtics sixth man, added seven points off the bench in the half for Orlando.
Rajon Rondo (right wrist) will be out for the third-straight game. Ray Allen (ankle) will be missing his second game in a row. Jermaine O'Neal injured his left knee in Boston's 87-56 win over Orlando on Monday at the TD Garden.
Tonight's game will be broadcast on TV via TNT and Comcast SportsNet New England and on the radio via the WEEI Sports Radio Network.
Event: Boston Celtics (7-9) vs. Orlando Magic (12-5) - NBA Regular Season, Game 17.
Date/Time: Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 8:00 p.m. EDT.
Location: Amway Center (Capacity: 18,846), Orlando, FL.
Broadcast Info: Thursday's game will be televised nationally on TNT. In addition, the game will be aired regionally on Comcast SportsNet New England, with Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn and Greg Dickerson bringing you the action. Also, the game can be heard on the WEEI Sports Radio Network, with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell on the call.
Odds: Orlando is an 8 1/2-point favorite, with the over-under set at 110 points.
Celtics Roster 2011-12: Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels,Keyon Dooling, Kevin Garnett, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Jermaine O'Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Mickael Pietrus, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Greg Stiemsma,Chris Wilcox. Head Coach: Doc Rivers.
Magic Roster 2011-2012: Ryan Anderson, Earl Clark, Glen Davis, Chris Duhon, Justin Harper, Dwight Howard, Larry Hughes, DeAndre Liggins, Jameer Nelson, Daniel Orton, J.J. Redick, Jason Richardson, Quentin Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Von Wafer. Head Coach: Stan Van Gundy.
Celtics And Magic In 2011: Boston and Orlando met three times in the regular season one year ago, with the Celtics winning twice. Boston lost the season series opener, 86-78, on Christmas Day before winning the last two games -- 109-106 on Jan. 17 and 91-80 on Feb. 6.
Last Time Out: Boston dismantled Orlando in its last game, winning 87-56. The 56 points scored was a franchise low for the Magic, who were held to 24.6 percent shooting (16-for-65). Paul Pierce and ex-Magic forward Brandon Bass led the C's with 19 points each and Kevin Garnett finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead Boston. Dwight Howard finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds and Glen Davis had six points and 11 rebounds off the bench for Orlando.
After the game on Monday, the Magic took on the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, where they cruised to a102-3 victory. Ryan Anderson had 24 points and eight rebounds to lead Orlando, which shot 45.8 percent -- much, much better than their outing on Monday. Howard had 14 points and nine boards, Hedo Turkoglu had 11 points and eight assists, J.J. Redick had 15 points of the bench and Davis finished with 13 points and five boards for the Magic.
Stats Central: Paul Pierce is the team's leading scorer, averaging 16.5 points. Rajon Rondo averages team highs in 9.4 assists and 1.7 steals while Kevin Garnett leads the team in rebounding (7.3 RPG) and Jermaine O'Neal averages a team-best 1.4 swats. Boston ranks 26th in points (89.4 PPG), 29th in rebounding (38.8 RPG), eighth in assists (21.5 APG) but is the league's third-best defense statistically (88.3 PPG allowed).
Dwight Howard leads the Magic in points (19.7 PPG), rebounding (15.6 RPG) and blocks (2.2 BPG). Jameer Nelson is averaging a team-leading 5.4 assists for Orlando, which ranks 16th in points (94.8 PPG), 11th in rebounding (43.1 RPG), 17th in assists (20.5 APG) and seventh in points allowed (90.8 PPG).
Storyline: It's been three days since the Celtics annihilated the Magic, and it's still really hard to believe that it happened. A 31 point win for a team that hadn't beaten a team with a winning record. Really? It's just baffling.
Alas, it happened, and it may have sent a strong message to the league: the Celtics are back. Of course, that message won't be proven by just one big win. If Boston can blow out Orlando twice in one week, that would go a long way towards proving the Celtics' new-found dominance. It's certainly possible, but in truth is really improbable.
Dwight Howard was humbled after the loss in the locker room, telling reporters that they will get better. The Magic certainly did that against the Pacers the next night, and you bet they will want to prove a point in the rematch.
Another key factor is the Celtics' injuries. As is discussed more in the next section, the Celtics could be down as many as six players and two starters. That certainly won't help with an aging team, or any team for that matter.
All signs point to an Orlando victory, but don't count the Celtics out yet. That's a foolish thing to do.
Players To Watch: Ever heard of that Dwight Howard guy? Yeah, keep an eye out for him. The walking double-double (and the NBA's leader in 20-point, 20-rebound games this season) is predestined to have a good game, but it will all come down to how well the C's can defend Superman. After a 14-point first quarter on Monday, the Celtics basically held Howard in check for the rest of the game. Even if they can hold him down, you should still expect to see a double-double. With attention on Howard, loos for guys like Ryan Anderson, Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis to make an impact.
For the Celtics, we will first have to see who all is playing. It's possible that the team could be without six, yes six, players in this game. Jermaine O'Neal did not practice on Wednesday and may not play. Also, Ray Allen is out. Rajon Rondo, Keyon Doling, Chris Wilcox and Mickael Pietrus are still up in the air. With that in mind, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will once again take on the brunt of the scoring load on the offensive end. Avery Bradley's defense should help, too.
Prediction: It's highly doubtful that the Celtics will do what they did on Monday again. Then again, it's unfair to say the Celtics can't win, because, well, they already proved they can. Still, expect the Magic to extract revenge. Final Score: Magic 98, Celtics 85.
Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will once again sit out Thursday night as he continues to nurse a wrist injury, according to the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, Rondo originally suffered the injury during a hard spill against the Toronto Raptors last Wednesday night, and has missed the Celtics' three games since.
On Thurdsay night, the Celtics will conclude the back half of their home-and-home with the Orlando Magic. Despite playing without Rondo, guard Ray Allen and other primary rotation players, the Celtics dismantled Orlando in Boston on Monday night, holding the Magic to just 56 points.
The Celtics have won two of three contests in Rondo's absence, subbing in second-year guard Avery Bradley and rookie E'Twaun Moore for the majority of his minutes.
Rondo is averaging 15.0 points and 9.4 assists per game this season.
The first result was purely unexpected. Down five players and two starters, the Boston Celtics pulled off an improbable victory against the Orlando Magic. And they didn't just squeak by, either. Boston won by 31 points against Orlando.
Dwight Howard and the Magic will certainly be looking for revenge when they host the Celtics in the finale of this home-and-home series at 8:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday night at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL (TV/Radio: TNT/WEEI).
Boston and Orlando were scheduled to meet three times this season and will play once more after Thursday's game. Last season, the Celtics and Magic battled three times with the C's winning only once, 86-78, on Christmas Day of 2010.
In the game on Monday, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each scored 19 points as the Celtics picked apart the Magic, winning 87-56. Dwight Howard finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, but was held in check after the first quarter. Boston held Orlando to 16 field goals and a franchise low in points. Kevin Garnett added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
While the Celtics have been off since their last encounter with the Magic, Orlando took on the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. Ryan Anderson scored a team-high 24 to send the Magic back to the win column, 102-83. Howard finished with 14 points and nine rebounds and ex-Celtic reserve Glen Davis had 13 points and five rebounds off the bench.
Boston ranks 26th in the league in scoring (89.4 PPG), 29th in rebounding (38.8 RPG), eighth in assists (21.5 APG) but is third in points allowed (88.3 PPG). Orlando is 16th in points per game (94.8 PPG), 11th in rebounding (43.1 RPG), 1th in assists (20.5 APG) and seventh in points allowed (90.8 PPG).
Tom Ziller published his latest NBA MVP Power Rankings on Wednesday morning, and -- no surprise here -- zero Boston Celtics were named among his top 10 MVP candidates.
If the Celtics were to pick a team MVP, Rajon Rondo would be the leading candidate. The point guard is averaging 15.0 points, 9.4 assists, 5.1 rebounds and approximately three "how the heck did he just convert a layup when none of his teammates even crossed half court yet?" plays per game.
Paul Pierce has also begun to resemble the fiercely efficient scoring machine Boston has come to expect, averaging 26.5 points on just 14.5 shots in his past two games after struggling with the effects of an injured heel for the season's first month or so.
Boston bamboozled the Orlando Magic Monday while surging to an 87-56 win, and perhaps the Celtics will sneak someone into Ziller's MVP rankings if they resume winning basketball games on a consistent basis.
Besides the injury, which was suffered against the Washington Wizards on Sunday, Allen's wife Shannon is in an advanced stage of pregnancy and the couple expects another child soon.
Every other Celtic made the trip to Orlando, a good sign for a team that has resemble an injury ward in the past few days. The Celtics are hopeful that Rajon Rondo (right wrist) and Keyon Dooling (right knee) will make their returns to the court in Orlando. Mickael Pietrus, who was a surprise scratch Monday with a shoulder ailment, also hopes to return Thursday and Chris Wilcox (left calf) is working his way closer to a return.
Without Allen on Monday, the Celtics submitted their best effort of the season, throttling the Magic 87-56.
Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. Boston defeated the Orlando Magic, 87-56, on Monday night at TD Garden.
OK, you got me. It's a pretty good joke, actually. You see, all of the major sports sites -- ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, CBS, etc -- all decided to pull a fast one on all of us fans and switch around the box score from the Celtics and Magic game Monday.
They tried to pass off this final score: Celtics 87, Magic 56. Yeah, right, nice try guys.
Wait, what? The Celtics actually won, and by 31 points, no less? Yes, you read that correctly.
Hard to wrap your mind around? Don't worry, it is for everyone. Boston systematically dismantled Orlando in almost every way possible, all while holding the Magic to 25 percent shooting. They made 16 field goals in the entire game, and the 56 points the Magic scored was a franchise low and was tied for the least points scored against the Celtics all time.
Somehow, someway, they still won, and here's how they did it.
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIP (AND MOST OTHER GAMES, LIKE THIS ONE)
Defense, defense, defense. It wins championships, you know. And in this case, it will also win you regular season basketball games. Boston's defense was smothering, forcing Orlando to go 16-for-65 from the field (that's 24.6 percent shooting, if you're keeping score at home) while turning the ball over a season-worst 23 times. Orlando scored 20 points in the second half, 10 in each quarter, in the less-than-stellar performance.
"Well I think that one's easy to explain," Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said when asked what happened. "I think they came out and just absolutely dominated us with their energy and their defensive intensity. Avery Bradley set a great tone. We had trouble even getting the ball into the scoring area. They were denying every pass."
Bradley, who started in place of the injured Rajon Rondo (sore right wrist), had a solid game even though it didn't show up on the stat sheet. Bradley finished with six points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals, and it was his defense -- as Van Gundy mentioned -- that was the game-changer.
"I just came out tonight and I wanted to get everybody else's energy up and I felt like I did playing defense like that," Bradley said. "Paul [Pierce] came up and told me when you play defense like that it makes us play defense even harder. That's all I try to do, I try to help in any way I can."
"His defense set the tone for the entire thing," Van Gundy added. "He tok us out; we had a hard time getting the ball down and getting into offense."
Bradley is no Rondo, but his defensive intensity will be critical for Boston this season.
SECOND UNIT STEPS UP FOR INJURY-RIDDEN CELTICS
Five players were out for the Celtics, including two starters, so bench production became all the more important. We already went over Bradley's contributions. Brandon Bass, playing against the Magic for the first time since Orlando traded him for Glen Davis (who had six points and 11 rebounds in his return to Boston), scored 19 points and had eight rebounds off the bench. Bass played starters minutes (he played 34:01) and was 8-for-14 from the field.
"I was just letting the game come to me, just staying with the same mindset: Go out and defend, rebounds and let the game come," Bass said after the win.
Sasha Pavlovic was also relatively effective in his 33 minutes. Pavlovic scored nine points, but missed a handful of open shots (he went 4-for-9 from the field and 1-for-5 from three-point range). Considering the circumstances, and the fact that not much is ever expected out of Pavlovic, it was an encouraging performance.
Marquis Daniels and E'Twaun Moore were also effective, finishing with eight and six points respectively. Daniels even had five assists and Moore had three dimes. JaJuan Johnson even looked good in his four and a half minutes, scoring four points.
Boston likely could not sustain success if it's forced to rely on its bench all season long, but again, it was encouraging to see the bench holding steady against a contending team in the Eastern Conference.
DWIGHT HOWARD NOTCHES DOUBLE-DOUBLE, BUT C'S KEEP HIM IN CHECK
Dwight Howard recorded a double-double, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds, but was by all accounts held in check by a stingy Celtics defense. Howard went 4-for-15 from the field and was 10-for-18 at the charity stripe. After a 14-point first half, Howard was limited to only four second-half points. Not exactly an MVP-type performance.
"We just allowed them to get into our heads," Howard said. "They won the mental battle. They've been doing it for a couple years sometimes. They would just get in our head, and we just have to learn to play through that. We'll get better."
"The game plan was to kind of defend him one-on-on and get out to the shooters," Paul Pierce said. "We felt like with the guys we had, especially Jermaine [O'Neal] and Kevin [Garnett] that we can go at him one-on-one and if we can defend the three point line tonight we'll have success. So we were able to do both. We were able to guard Dwight, not let him get out a huge, huge night and we were able to get out three point shooters and that was the reason we had so much success tonight defensively."
If the Celtics can limit Howard, who is averaging 20.2 points and 16.1 rebounds and is just a freak of nature in general, there's plenty of hope going forward. As Pierce said, there are no more excuses now that the C's have a quality victory.
"We know what type of team [we have] and knowing the guys we were out, you know we had a lot of fire power that wasn't really out there tonight and so there shouldn't be any more excuses. We know what we're capacle of and this is the tupe of game I hope can carry over the rest of the season."
BOTTOM LINE: This was far and away the Celtics best win of the season. Period. They recovered from a rocky start offensively and stifled the Magic offense all night long. Plenty of positives for Boston out of this game. Can they keep up this level of play? It remains to be seen, but if they can, great things may be in store.
NEXT UP: Boston will have the opportunity to run their winning streak to three games against, wouldn't you know it, these same Magic, on Thursday night in Orlando. It will definitely be a good test for the Celtics once again.
Paul Pierce is finally firing on all cylinders for the Boston Celtics. Pierce, who missed the team's first three games with a heel injury, has worked his way back into basketball shape and has finally hit his stride in the team's last two victories.
BOSTON - Someone could have made a lot of money if they bet on the Boston Celtics winning by thirty points tonight against the Orlando Magic. But then again, they would have also been sent to the insane asylum before the game.
As it turns out, that was the outcome. Boston picked apart the Orlando Magic, running away with their best victory of the season, 87-56, while tying a franchise record by holding the Magic to 56 points and only 20 points in the second half.
Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass were on their game, with each finishing with team-highs in points at 19. Pierce had seven assists and five rebounds while Bass grabbed eight boards in 34 minutes off the bench. Kevin Garnett was solid, finishing with a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds).
Avery Bradley and Sasha Pavlovic played well, too. Bradley starting in place of the injured Rajon Rondo (sore right wrist) and had six points, four rebounds and three assists while Pavlovic, who started for an injured Ray Allen (jammed left ankle), scored nine in 33 minutes for the Celts.
Boston was dominant in just about every category you could think of. Rebounds? Celtics owned the glass, 46-44. Assists? The C's had a 21-12 advantage. Shooting? Boston shot 42.3 percent while holding Orlando to 25 percent. Yes, 25 percent. In every sense of the word, it was a dominant performance from the C's. And almost nobody expected it.
"Well I didn't - let me just put it like you said - I didn't not expect it," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I knew we were going to compete. You could feel it. You really could. I thought we kind of - I don't know if you want to say 'stumbled' on it because we didn't, but in that Washington game - you could see it after the Phoenix game - in the Washington game you could see offensively and defensively extra passes again. It looked like us, you know? So we knew that was coming. I really believe that. But the defense - that was as good as you're going to get. So, yeah, I don't think anybody saw that [coming]."
Boston has a chance to embarrass Orlando again this week, as they travel to Florida to face the Magic again. Rivers didn't have to pump up his team after the game, for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, this was a good start for Rivers' team as they picked up their first quality victory of the somewhat young season.
"We ain't going to get much better than this defensively, and I think it's a good blueprint for them," Rivers said. "But is also tells them how hard it was. It's hard work, I mean, Avery [Bradley] was dying out thereBut two weeks ago we couldn't have done this anyway, honestly, because of conditioning. We would have never lasted. So now it's a good sign we're getting in better conditioning. The minutes were pretty good with guys tonight; Kevin [Garnett] with 28, that's spectacular."
It's highly unlikely that the Celtics do this again Thursday, but who knows? Anything is possible.
BOSTON - Systematic destruction best sums up what the Boston Celtics did to the Orlando Magic on Monday night. In a valiant effort, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett picked up the slack for a team missing five players and two starters and led the Celtics to a big 87-56 win over the Magic at TD Garden.
The offense wasn't particularly pretty on either side, with the two teams combining to shoot 28.2 percent on 46-of-143 shooting. Orlando, however, couldn't get its act together all night, finishing 16-of-65 from the floor (25 percent).
Pierce and Brandon Bass led the charge, with the Celtics' captain finishing with 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds and Bass totaling 19 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes. Kevin Garnett totaled 14 points and 10 boards and Avery Bradley chipped in with six points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals while playing lockdown defense all night.
Dwight Howard lef the Magic with 18 points and 14 rebounds, but went 10-for-18 from the free throw line. Glen Davis, who made his return to Boston for the first time since being traded to Orlando for Bass, put together a solid game and finished with six points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
Boston is off until Thursday night when it takes on the Magic down in Orlando, Florida.
BOSTON - It wasn't pretty, but the Boston Celtics came alive at the end of the half and took a 46-36 lead over the Orlando Magic into halftime here at TD Garden. Both teams combined to make 26-of-79 baskets and shot 32.9 percent in the half.
Dwight Howard had a very Howard-like performance, finishing the half with 14 points and eight rebounds for Orlando, which made 11-of-38 baskets to shoot 29 percent. Glen Davis, who received a video tribute in the first quarter and was clearly emotional when acknowledging the fans, put together a nice half with six points and seven boards off the bench.
Paul Pierce was the high man for the Celtics in the half, totaling 13 points, eight of which came in the first quarter. Brandon Bass scored 13 points and Kevin Garnett had just four points but had a team-high seven rebounds at the break.
BOSTON - This could be (and let's face it, probably will be) a train wreck. Coming off a nice win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday night, the Boston Celtics will be down a big portion of their roster on Monday night against the Orlando Magic.
Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Keyon Dooling, Chris Wilcox and Mickael Pietrus will all sit out of the game Monday. In their place, second-year guard Avery Bradley will start at point guard and Sasha Pavlovic will start in place of Allen. Read more about the Celtics' injuries here.
Glen Davis makes his return to Boston for the first time since being traded in the offseason in exchange for Brandon Bass, as will Von Wafer. Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers spoke with the media before the game. Interviews are below.
BOSTON - The Boston Celtics will be down a significant portion of players on Friday night against the Orlando Magic, with Rajon Rondo (wrist), Ray Allen (ankle), Keyon Dooling (knee), Chris Wilcox (calf), and Mickael Pietrus (shoulder) missing.
Avery Bradley and Sasha Pavlovic will fill the void in the Celtics' starting lineup Monday.
Of that group, Pietrus' name is surprising. Pietrus suffered a shoulder injury during Sunday afternoon's game against the Wizards. Allen was also injured during the game, jamming his left ankle in the second quarter. Dooling and Wilcox have been out for a while now.
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said that Rondo and Dooling are the closest players to returning, saying that he would be surprised if both were not suited up for Thursday night's game against the Magic in Orlando. Rondo has missed the team's last two games after suffering from a right wrist injury in the team's game against the Toronto Raptors last week.
The Boston Celtics will be in action three times this week, with the first game coming tonight against the Orlando Magic at 7:30 p.m.
The C's enter the week coming off a 100-94 win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday, Jan. 22. Boston (6-9) has not played the Magic (11-4) yet this season but will face them twice this week with a home-and-home series. The teams will meet again on April 18 when Boston hosts Orlando at the TD Garden. The Magic bring a familiar face in Glen Davis to the Garden tonight. "Big Baby" Davis played for the Celtics from 2007-2011. He was sent to the Magic this offseason for his former LSU teammate Brandon Bass.
Here's the complete Celtics weekday schedule with TV/Radio information:
Monday, 1/23: Celtics vs. Magic (7:30 p.m., TV: CSN/WEEI)
Thursday, 1/26: Celtics at Magic (8 p.m., TV: TNT and CSN/WEEI)
Friday, 1/27: Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers (7:30 p.m., TV: CSN/WEEI)
Evan Dunlap, the founder and managing editor of Orlando Pinstriped Post, took some time to answer five questions regarding tonight's game between the Celtics and Magic.
Glen Davis makes his return to Boston on Monday night. At the same time, Brandon Bass will face his former team (the Magic). It may be too early to fully asses the Davis-for-Bass trade, but what are your impressions of Davis in Orlando? In your opinion, which team got the better player?
Evan: Davis has played about the way one might have expected to based on his body of work in Boston: hard, with lots of energy and tenaciousness. But his weaknesses are the same, too: he shoots a ton of long two-pointers at a low percentage, and when he does try to score inside--usually on an offensive rebound--he struggles to convert. He's vying with Chris Duhon for the dubious distinction of being the team's least effective everyday player, at least in terms of offense. Davis brings other things to the team, however; his great positional defense and willingness to lead are two attributes Orlando sorely lacked last season, and from that standpoint he's valuable. Having said that, he's not nearly as productive as Bass.
Dwight Howard is up to his usual trick, but with his contract coming to and end, everyone's talking about potential destinations for Howard. Is it pretty much a done deal that Howard is leaving town after this season or at the trade deadline, or is there a chance he could stay in Orlando for the long run?
Evan: My own feeling is there's a chance--however slim--that Howard decides to return to Orlando. The odds are heavily against it, but I don't believe he's dead-set on leaving, and neither do the Magic.
Mickael Pietrus spent over two seasons in Orlando, and of course is now with Boston. What were your impressions of Pietrus during his time with the Magic, and what is the maximum level of production the Celtics can get out of him?
Evan: Pietrus is the classic "no-no-no-no-yes!" player, and is a bit of a space cadet to boot. When healthy and engaged, he's a well-above-average perimeter defender thanks to his good quickness and his willingness to play physically. His problem of late has been staying healthy, and it'll be up to Doc Rivers and Boston's crew of vets to keep M.P. focused. As Stan Van Gundy told the media several times during Pietrus' time with the Magic, M.P. plays much better when he's involved offensively. What Stan didn't say--because he's a tactful guy, all things considered--is that it's tough to get Pietrus involved offensively because he's so limited.
Yes--and Celtics fans who watched the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals know this better than most--Pietrus is a streaky shooter, especially from beyond the arc, which makes him dangerous: he's capable of hitting three or four triples in very short order; he's also capable of bricking three or four triples, or stepping out-of-bounds on a dribble-drive attempt, or taking a contested fadeaway 18-footer with 17 seconds on the shot clock. Again: no-no-no-no-yes.
Apart from defense and outside shooting, MP provides little. He doesn't have a good enough handle to create for himself off the dribble, he's not what one might call a willing passer, he takes some truly awful shots, and he doesn't rebound well at all. That assessment sounds harsh, I know, but I actually like M.P. Defense and three-point shooting are valuable in this league. Boston fans shouldn't count on him to be as key as James Posey or Tony Allen were in prior seasons, but for a guy backing up two future Hall-of-Famers on the wings, Boston could do worse. It has, in fact: just look down the roster at Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels. Even the Toronto Raptors think that's a bad backup wing rotation.
Boston and Orlando are teams heading in different directions, at least to some degree. The Celtics are at the tail end of the Big Three era while the Magic are still considered a contender. However, that can change quickly for both teams next offseason. From your standpoint, which team has a brighter future in the next five years?
Evan: Ask me again when this Dwight Howard drama is over. If he stays, Orlando has the brighter future by a mile. If he doesn't? The Cetlics at least have Rajon Rondo to build around even if Danny Ainge breaks up the Ray Allen/Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett core, and I have more faith in Ainge than I do in Otis Smith.
Prediction time. Which team will prevail on Monday night and which Magic players should fans expect big games from?
Evan: I'm torn here. The Celtics are 6-9 and haven't looked sharp at all; Orlando, at 11-4, has a much better record, but has played arguably the league's softest schedule, though if we're talking strength-of-schedule, I hasten to note that half of the Celtics' wins this season are against the Washington Wizards. It's a tough one to call, but I do think ultimately Howard will put the Magic over the top in a close, ugly, low-scoring game. Something in the neighborhood of 87-82.
Big Baby is back. Coming off their win over the Wizards on Sunday, the Boston Celtics (6-9) welcome back Glen "Big Baby" Davis and the Orlando Magic (11-4) at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Monday night at TD Garden (TV/Radio: CSNNE/WEEI).
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