Celtics Hold Off Magic 102-98

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

The Orlando Magic gave another excellent effort, but couldn’t quite catch the Boston Celtics, falling 102-98.

Paul Pierce was the star, scoring 29 points, dishing out 14 assists and grabbing five rebounds. Glen Davis had another big night, leading the Magic with 27 points on an impressive 12-of-16 shooting.

Orlando had their chances late – they had two great looks to tie the game with just over (and under) two minutes to play, but neither J.J. Redick or Jameer Nelson could knock down an open three-pointer. Despite then falling behind by six, Orlando cut Boston’s once 13-point lead to two on a Davis steal-and-score, but Pierce knocked down a typical Paul Pierce jumper with seven seconds left and iced the game with two free throws about five seconds later.

The Celtics’ offense was excellent for the most part. They were aggressive and got good looks from the basket. Of course, Paul Pierce hit several of his customary tough shots, but for the game, Boston shot 54.3% from the field and got to the foul line 27 times (and hit 23 of them, 85.2%). The Magic defense did get better as the game went on – Boston was a scorching 14-of-19 from the field in the first quarter and 9-of-18 in the second quarter before cooling off in the third and fourth – they were 15-of-33 in the second half. Kevin Garnett had a rough night, shooting 6-of-15 from the field, but Avery Bradley, playing because of injuries to Ray Allen, Mickael Pietrus and Rajon Rondo, had a huge night. He carved up the Magic defense, scoring 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Brandon Bass chipped in 21 points on a very efficient 7-of-11 shooting.

Conversely, the Magic again played pretty well on the offensive end. They were dreadful from beyond the arc (6-of-24, 25.0%), but took the game inside despite Boston’s size advantage with Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu out. Orlando scored 54 points in the paint and did a better job of getting to the hoop – drives by Davis, Jameer Nelson and Von Wafer stand out.

Davis was especially good. Entering the game, he claimed he wanted to score 50 points. He didn’t quite do that, but scoring 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting is very impressive. He also grabbed seven rebounds and recorded three steals while helping to hold Garnett to just 6-of-15 shooting from the field. After the game, Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy raved about Davis’s play on both ends.

  • Jameer Nelson had another good game, going for 21 points, nine assists and four rebounds despite shooting just 7-of-19 from the field.
  • Chris Duhon was a -19 in 11 minutes. Magic fans continue to be in an uproar over Van Gundy’s decision to use Duhon instead of Ish Smith and it’s difficult to disagree with them.
  • Earl Clark left the game with a “sore left knee” per Dante Marchitelli of the FS Florida broadcast.

Next Up: The Magic will be in Utah to take on the Jazz Saturday night.

Final Thought: The Magic played tough again and to be honest, this loss may help them avoid the Celtics in the postseason.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)

Topics: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Jermaine O'neal, Kevin Garnett, Larry Hughes, Mickael Pietrus, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Paul Pierce, Quentin Richardson, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Von Wafer

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