The outcome wasn’t exactly what Boston imagined.
After being down by as many as 16, the Magic took their first lead of the night with 4:52 left in the fourth quarter and escaped with a 96-94 win. Rashard Lewis beat Kevin Garnett off the dribble and notched the game-winning layup with 1.3 seconds left on the clock.
Ray Allen led the Celtics with 20 points and Rasheed Wallace chipped in with 17 off the bench. Orlando’s Dwight Howard was limited in the first half due to foul trouble but still finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes.
Magic 96, Celtics 94
Amway Arena, Orlando, Fla.
Jan. 28, 2009
Headliner: Rashard Lewis’ game-winning layup with less than two seconds on the clock was as invigorating for the Magic as it was demoralizing for the Celtics. The forward finished with a team-high 23 points and eight rebounds.
The Dwight Howard-Marcin Gortat double-team didn’t heat up until
late in the second half, but once it got going, it couldn’t be stopped.
The two combined to erase what was once a 16-point deficit.
Howard finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and four
monstrous blocks, while Gortat’s first and only shot from the floor was a
big one: a jumper from 17 feet that gave Orlando its first lead. He finished with six
points, eight rebounds and three blocks in nearly 27 minutes off the bench.
Unsung Hero: Ray Allen didn’t miss from the floor until 8:39 remained in the
third quarter. The guard — and not-so-secret subject of recent trade
rumors — proved his worth against Orlando, finishing 8-of-12 from the
floor with 20 points, three rebounds and
Despite being held scoreless in the first half, Rajon Rondo finished
with 11 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and a critical steal with 1:04 left on the clock that
led to a three-point Celtics lead.
And obviously, the Magic wouldn’t have had any shot at all if it wasn’t for J.J. Redick’s game-tying 3-pointer with less than a minute left.
Scrub: Fouls were a problem for the Celtics all night. Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins both missed the final four minutes of the first half with three fouls each, forcing Brian Scalabrine into action and allowing the Magic the perfect opportunity to cut into their deficit. Davis and Perkins finished the night with just 17 and 15 minutes, respectively, combining for just 10 points and eight rebounds on a night when they were desperately needed to shut down Dwight Howard.
Turning Point: The Magic went on an 8-0 run to kick off the fourth, and despite being down by as many as 16 in the third quarter, they managed to pull within five after Kevin Garnett fouled Gortat on a dunk with 9:14 remaining. That was the closest the Magic had been since early in the first quarter, and they narrowed the deficit two 2 on a running hook by Howard with just under seven minutes left.
What once looked like an insurmountable Boston lead completely disappeared when Gortat hit a jumper to take an 84-83 lead, capping a 23-7 run by the Magic. After a jumper from Rasheed Wallace, Orlando took the lead again with 4:12 remaining after Redick sunk three free throws after being fouled by Ray Allen.
Paul Pierce’s trey with 1:21 left gave the Celtics the lead once again, and Rajon Rondo banked a runner off the board with 51 seconds left to give Boston a 3-point advantage. But Redick tied things up at 94 with a 3, and Rashard Lewis’ layup with 1.3 seconds left sealed the win.
Up Next: The C’s have a quick turnaround before a Friday night matchup at Atlanta. Boston’s luck against the Hawks has been terrible this season, to say the least. This is the fourth matchup between the two teams, and Atlanta won each of the first three handily.
The Hawks are in first place in the Southeast Division, a half-game ahead of Orlando. Joe Johnson leads the way offensively with 21.3 points, while Al Horford leads the team in rebounds with 9.8.