End of game, Celtics win 87-56: That was pretty convincing.
The Celtics overcame the absence of five players, including their starting backcourt and the two players who are customarily the first two guards off their bench, to demolish the Magic at TD Garden.
With noteworthy defensive contributions by Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, Sasha Pavlovic, Marquis Daniels and Avery Bradley, the Celtics held the Magic to 25 percent shooting and 25 percent on 3-pointers while forcing 25 turnovers.
The Celtics went a perfect 19-for-19 from the foul line and outrebounded the Magi 46-44. Dwight Howard had 18 points and 14 rebounds, but was mostly held in check by Garnett and O'Neal and only hit four of his 15 shots. Ryan Anderson, Orlando's second-leading scorer, did not register a point on eight shots in 23 minutes.
Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce shared the Celtics lead in scoring with each dropping 19 points. Bass added eight rebounds and Pierce chipped in seven assists. Daniels and Pavlovic, who have been hampered by injuries, rustiness and poor shooting, showed positive signs of breaking out offensively. Pavlovic had a season-high nine points and Daniels came within a point of his season-high with eight points.
Garnett had 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots in another strong performance by the veteran, who has quietly had an effective season on defense and on the glass.
Fourth quarter, 1:49, Celtics 85-52: Pavlovic knocked down a jumper to give him a season-high nine points. Did I miss the ovation and video retrospective of Von Wafer's time as a Celtic?
Fourth quarter, 5:16, Celtics 77-51: Garnett hit another long jumper, giving him 14 points to go along with 10 rebounds, and he and Pierce head to the bench, probably for good.
Pierc's night included 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds in another all-around effort.
Fourth quarter, 7:34, Celtics 74-51: Larry Hughes hit a jump shot, and Orlando finally cracks 50 points.
Anderson, who averages 17 points per game, is still scoreless in seven field goal attempts, four from beyond the arc.
Fourth quarter, 8:47, Celtics 73-48: Everything you need to know about the Celtics' defense can be summed up by the fact that there are eight minutes left in the game and the Magic have not yet broken the 50-point barrier.
The Celtics had a lot to do with that. Forcing a 24-second violation and a three-second violation due to defensive pressure stood out.
The Magic tend to have games like this occasionally, though. When a team lives by the deep shot, sometimes it dies by the deep shot, too. In order to keep the defense from collapsing on Howard, Orlando needs to hit a high number of outside shots, and they have not. Howard has been his beastly self with 17 points and 13 rebounds, but he is just 4-for-15 shooting because Garnett and O'Neal have done an effective defensive job and because his supporing cast hasn't given him any help.
End third quarter, Celtics 69-46: The Magic are the type of team that can get hot quickly, so the Celtics are under pressure to keep up their offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter.
The Magic shot 27 percent (13-for-49) from the field and 27 percent (4-for-15) from 3 in the first three quarters. They shoot 45 percent on the season and better than 40 percent from deep, so this score could flip quickly if the Celtics let up.
From the department of Statistics That Are Bound to Be a Jinx, the Celtics have yet to miss a free throw. They made their first 19 attempts.
Third quarter, :31.1, Celtics 67-46: Daniels is having his best game in a long time. Once his shot started to fall, this was the type of player Daniels figured to be for the Celtics this season.
Daniels penetrated and handed off the Bass for a dunk, helping round out of complete performance that includes eight points so far. Bass has 17 points.
Third quarter, 3:08, Celtics 60-41: While the Magic continued to misfire from deep, the Celtics capitalized by building the lead.
Daniels made a rare long jumper and Garnett looked like the Big Ticket circa 2005 by blocking Howard and then drawing a shooting foul on Superman at the other end.
Bradley got into Nelson's head and has the Magic point guard all out of sorts. Nelson has five turnovers and is just 2-for-5 from the floor. He was also pressured by Bradley into committing a carry in the backcourt.
Third quarter, 5:16, Celtics 56-41: There hasn't ben a whole lot of scoring in the third, but the points that have been scored have been interesting.
Bass pressured Davis into a falling pass underneath the Celtics' basket, and Bradley swooped in for the steal. Bradley made a point guard play by dishing to Bass for a dunk over Davis to put the Celtics back up by 15.
Third quarter, 7:34, Celtics 54-39: Pierce nailed another jumper to increase the lead to 15 points, but that wasn't even the most interesting thing that happened.
O'Neal and Howard got into a little bit of a staring match that led to some shoving but not much else. The highlight might have been O'Neal sticking his index finger in Howard's face.
A double technical brought a momentary end to the extracurricular activity, and O'Neal went to the bench with his fourth foul.
Third quarter, 9:30, Celtics 50-36: Say what you want about age, but on how many teams would two superstars hit the deck to chase a loose ball?
Pierce and Garnett both went to the parquet in pursuit of a loose ball that Bradley knocked free from Nelson. The result is a jump ball.
Pierce opened the half by knocking down two jumpers.
Halftime, Celtics 46-36: A contested jumper from 21 feet out by Nelson was all that prevented the Celtics from entering halftime with a 12-point advantage. The Celtics completely controlled the second quarter, holding the Magic to 16 points in the frame. One might say Orlando's offensive performance in the second quarter was Celtics-esque.
Here's the good, the bad and the so-so.
The Good: Brandon Bass owned the head-to-head matchup with Glen Davis in the first half, in case anyone wanted to keep track. Bass shares the team-high of 13 points with Paul Pierce, and is 5-of-8 from the field. Bass has four rebounds in 18:44 and is 3-for-3 from the foul line. … Pierce was the best player on the floor once again. Despite a poor 3-for-8 shooting mark, he is 6-for-6 from the line and had three rebounds and four assists to go along with his 13 points. His ability to affect the game in so many different ways is what has made him a future Hall of Famer, and he seems to be playing that type of game. … It speaks volumes about Dwight Howard's stature that 14 points and eight rebounds qualified as a quiet first half. Those are areas we're used to seeing him dominate, but he played 18 minutes and went 6-for-8 from the line as well as handed out two assists.
The Bad: Ryan Anderson is the Magic's second-leading scorer this season, but he couldn't buy a bucket in the first half. The forward out of Cal missed all four of his shots, and the normally effective long-range shooter missed both 3-point attempts he took. He failed to grab a rebound and committed three fouls in 13:06.
The So-so: Davis went just 2-for-7 from the field for only six points, but he pulled down seven rebounds, the second-most on the Magic. … Jermaine O'Neal missed all four of his shot attempts and was whistled for three fouls in 11:46, but he hassled Howard about as well as a defender can be expected and also had five rebounds and two blocked shots.
Second quarter, :32, Celtics 43-33: On the second night of a back-to-back, the two oldest healthy members of the Celtics led the charge.
Pierce and Garnett each contributed two free throws and a Garnett layup, assisted by Pierce, plus a 3 by Pierce stretched the Celtics' lead to 10.
Ten points is the Celtics' largest lead of the game and at 14-for-14 the Celtics are perfect from the foul line.
Second quarter, 2:44, Celtics 34-33: He missed one.
Sharpshooter Howard finally bricked a free throw after hitting his first five attempts. His accuracy would blow up any intentional foul strategy the Celtics might have planned for.
Jameer Nelson finally made the Celtics pay for doubling Howard in the post. The Magic had ben 1-for-7 from downtown before Nelson swished a straight-on 3.
Second quarter, 4:32, Celtics 32-29: The pace slowed down big time once Pierce and Howard lost their touch as the teams have combined for 10 points in the last five minutes.
Pierce missed his last three shots and may have started to show some fatigue from carrying the Celtics for the last game and a half.
Second quarter, 8:20, Celtics 28-27: Big Baby found a little rhythm with those free throws. He dropped his patented midrange jumper to keep the margin at one after Bass scored a jumper himself.
Second quarter, 9:21, Celtics 26-25: Davis missed his first four shots, but his finally got on the board with two free throws. Following a 3 by Quentin Richardson, Davis' freebies helped the Magic pull within one point.
End of first quarter, Celtics 22-20: The Magic fell into a stupor on offense with Howard out of the game, allowing the Celtics to take the lead thanks to contributions from Marquis Daniels (on defense) and E'Twaun Moore (on offense).
Moore scored four straight points on a pull-up jumper and a pair of free throws to extend the Celtics' lead to four points, their widest margin since leading 6-0 in the opening minutes. Daniels chipped in a block of a Ryan Anderson shot.
Pierce picked up where he left off Sunday, scoring eight points on 2-for-5 shooting in the first 11:21. He also notched two rebounds and two assists while going 4-for-4 from the stripe, although he missed his only 3-point attempt. If Danny Ainge trades Pierce, it's not unreasonable to wonder how the Celtics will ever score at all..
First quarter, 2:21, Magic 18-15: The Celtics are breaking a cardinal rule of basketball by letting offensive players cut directly in front of them down the lane.
Pavlovic and Bradley were culprits earlier, but Pierce paid on the Magic's last possession, leading to two free throws by Hedo Turkoglu.
First quarter, 3:50, Magic 14-12: The Celtics didn't like what they saw with Howard victimizing them down low, so they turned to the foul-at-all-costs philosophy.
It didn't really work out on the last two plays, as the Celtics avoided two likely dunks by watched Howard go 4-for-4 from the foul line.
First quarter, 4:53, game tied 10-10: Davis checked in to a polite cheer from the crowd. He received his applause while on the bench in the opening minutes.
First quarter, 6:52, Magic 8-6: With a thin lineup, the Celtics can only sustain their energy for so long. Once their initial burst wore off, the Magic responded with eight straight points to take the lead.
Jason Richardson finally gave Orlando a player not named Dwight Howard to get into the scoring column with the go-ahead layup.
After his steal and layup for the game's second basket, Sasha Pavlovic looked like a player who missed six games, turning the ball over to Jameer Nelson under the Celtics' basket.
First quarter, 7:37, game tied 6-6: This Howard guy might become a fair player one day.
The most dominant big man in the NBA single-handedly wiped out the Celtics' advantage with a dunk, a lefty hook and an alley-oop dunk to knot the score.
First quarter, 10:00, Celtics 6-2: It's been quite a while since the Celtics had an energetic start like this one.
Avery Bradley, Sasha Pavlovic and Paul Pierce got on the board in the first two minutes as the Celtics built a 6-0 lead.
The Magic were scoreless until Dwight Howard put an end to that with a vicious dunk.
7:30 p.m.: If Celtics fans do give Davis a sustained cheer on Monday, it will violate an unwritten rule among Boston sports fans.
Locals have been fairly consistent over the years of loudly cheering players who had success in Boston and were shipped out as part of a management decision. Players who left of their own accord or are perceived to have forced the moves have not been treated as well.
Davis was nominally traded, but it was essentially his choice to leave. As an unrestricted free agent, Davis had a higher opinion of his value than the Celtics, so there was little chance of him returning to Boston at the price he set. The Celtics accomodated Davis by working out a sign-and-trade for Brandon Bass that also sent Von Wafer to Orlando.
These details probably won't occur to many of the fans who applaud Davis on Monday, but it is worth staying aware of the actual circumstances of Davis' departure.
7:25 p.m.: Just noticed that when I mentioned the Celtics missing five players earlier, I only mentioned four. Chris Wilcox is the fifth member out against the Magic. Sorry, with so many guys sidelined, I lost track.
7:15 p.m.: One guy who will be in uniform Monday (at least, we think) will be forward Brandon Bass, who will get his first head-to-head exposure this season against Glen Davis, the player he was trade for in the offseason.
Although the season has gone well for the Magic as a whole, there is little dispute who got the best of the deal. Davis' production is down across the board, to 7.9 points and 5.1 rebounds. Bass has continud to be an effective offensive and rebounding spark off the bench, averaging 11.5 points and 6.4 rebounds for the Celtics.
Celtics fans are expected to give Davis a loud ovation Monday, but whether it will match the one Kendrick Perkins received last Monday remains to be seen.
7 p.m.: You know that 34-point, 10-asists, eight-rebound performance Paul Pierce put together Sunday? Well, the Celtics are going to need another showing like that — and more — against the Magic on Monday.
The Celtics will be without five key members, including the top four players in their backcourt rotation. Ray Allen is out after injuring his ankle Sunday, Rajon Rondo will miss his third straight game with a strained wrist and Keyon Dooling, who hasn't played since Jan. 11, remains sidelined. Head coach Doc Rivers also announced prior to the game that Mickael Pietrus will miss the game as well.
Avery Bradley will get his third start at point guard, while Sasha Pavlovic is expected to start for the first time since Pierce's return to the lineup on Dec. 30.
8:20 a.m.: With Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen's status questionable, the Celtics get their first look this season at the team Dwight Howard doesn't want to play for anymore.
The Orlando Magic come to town to begin a home-and-home set against the Celtics, who could be without their starting backcourt. Rondo missed the last two games with a strained wrist and Allen left Sunday's game in Washington with a jammed left ankle.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 7:30 p.m.