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.