Game over, Celtics win 116-110: Eventually, the Celtics found enough to pull out a tough win over the lowly Magic. Rajon Rondo and the Celtics got out to a roaring start but fell flat in the second half before experience finally won out in overtime.
Kevin Garnett scored 24 points with 10 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 23 points, Brandon Bass had 13 points and 12 rebounds — five of which were assisted — and Rondo finished with 15 points, 16 assists, nine rebounds and one turnover. But the win brought more of a feeling of relief for the Celtics, since a loss would have undone all the positive vibes they built up with Friday’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The third quarter loomed large. Jameer Nelson dropped 12 of his 20 points in the quarter, more than doubling the Celtics’ entire scoring output in those 12 minutes.
The Celtics allowed the Magic to shoot 42 percent from deep. The Magic’s long-distance shooting was crucial in keeping the game close as the Celtics dominated with 60 points in the paint and 21 second-chance points on 17 offensive rebounds. Rondo tied John Stockton by making it to 37 straight games with double-digit assists, so that’s nice.
Overtime, :13.7, Celtics 114-10: Garnett must have wanted to keep things interesting.
At the line with a chance to ice the game, Garnett missed one of two free throws to technically leave the Magic a chance of a four-point play to tie the game. Redick and Nelson can shoot it, but unless the Celtics did something really boneheaded, the C’s should have had this one in the bag.
Overtime, 1:37, Celtics 113-108: Garnett, Pierce and Rondo seized the moment in winning time. Working with a tie score after a pair of foul shots by Josh McRoberts, Pierce drained a three and Rondo looked off Pierce on the break to deke a defender and flip home a layup.
End of regulation, game tied 102-102: End-of-game situations can get real ugly sometimes. Pierce got the ball at the top of the key and waited, and waited. And waited. Finally he missed an impossible 15-footer at the buzzer.
Pierce and Garnett already had a nice night’s work with 20 points and 21 points, respectively. Redick also entered overtime as part of the 20-point club with 21 points in less than 29 minutes.
Fourth quarter, :19.2, game tied 102-102: Bass worked his rear end off in the fourth quarter, and he kept it up after Garnett missed a makeable eight-foot jump shot. Bass went to the hardwood to keep Davis from scooping up the floorboard, so the Celtics maintained possession and had a chance for the final shot.
Fourth quarter, :30.4, game tied 102-102: Rivers has lauded Terry’s improved defense, and it was on display on the biggest possession of the game thus far. Terry picked up Nelson in transition and hustled over a screen at the top of the key to stick with the Magic point guard. Nelson ended up taking a three under duress, and the Celtics corralled the carom.
Fourth quarter, 1:34, Magic 102-100: Rondo can create open shots for his teammates, but sometimes he leaves them guessing exactly where he will find them.
Terry got mixed up on the break as he was unsure whether Rondo would hit him with a pass on the wing or in the corner. Rondo tried an in-between pass, but the pass bounced off Terry’s hands. Terry should have caught it, but that turnover was on Rondo. He is the point guard, and if Rondo wants to claim the title of the best point guard in the league, his teammates should always know precisely where he will get him the ball. Jason Kidd, John Stockton and Magic Johnson’s teammates never suffered from that uncertainty.
Fourth quarter, 2:51, Celtics 98-97: Suddenly the Magic turned back into the Magic. Poof!
Orlando went more than five minutes without scoring a basket and the Celtics — with Garnett, Pierce, Terry and Rondo back on the floor — surged back into the lead. Bass had a chance to score the tying points at the line, but he split his free throws. Garnett ended up delivering the go-ahead shot by banking home a short jumper on the next possession.
Fourth quarter, 6:25, Magic 95-91: Barbosa giveth and Barbosa taketh away. After blowing up two straight Celtics possessions with a bad shot and a turnover, the speedy guard scored a couple of baskets to keep the C’s within striking distance. Then after Boston had built up some momentum on a tip-in by Sullinger and a free throw by Green, Barbosa fumbled the ball out of bounds on the next possession.
Sometimes you watch Barbosa play and think, “How was this guy still available to be signed two weeks before the season started?” And other times you say, “Oh, now I see.”
Fourth quarter, 11:11, Magic 87-80: Whew. Somebody get Nelson an ice pack before he burns himself. The Magic point guard was white-hot and drilled another triple to stretch Orlando’s lead to seven points. The Celtics were in trouble and could not afford to drop this one. As rousing as their win over the Thunder on Friday was, all that progress would have been for naught if they turned around and lost to a below-.500 squad just two days later.
End of third quarter, Magic lead 82-80: Jameer Nelson started partying like it was 2004 and he was still at Saint Joseph’s at the end of the third quarter.
The veteran point guard netted the final eight points of the frame to give the Magic their first lead since the 10:10 mark of the first quarter. The Celtics completely went in the tank in the last four minutes, allowing Orlando to outscore them by 12 points in the quarter. Rondo was a milk carton culprit after a stellar first quarter, missing all three shots he took and committing three fouls in the third.
Third quarter, 2:24, Celtics 78-72: If Pierce got chewed out a bit by Rivers in that timeout, the message was delivered. The problem for the Celtics was that the Magic started playing a lot better, too.
The Magic narrowed the gap to as little as three points as Afflalo and J.J. Redick operated the offense like veterans. Pierce had 11 points in the quarter, but Afflalo scored five straight at one juncture and Redick had two 3-pointers and a clever reverse layup off a feed from Afflalo to make things interesting.
Third quarter, 10:57, Celtics 58-51: There must have been naptime in the locker room, because the Celtics came out groggy to begin the second half.
The Celtics threw the ball away on their first two possessions and Pierce failed to get out on Maurice Harkless, so the rookie swished home a high, arcing trey. Rivers took an extremely quick timeout to remind his players that this game counted, even if it was against the Magic.
Halftime, Celtics lead 58-48: The Magic had no answer for Boston’s backcourt as Rondo, Barbosa and Lee combined for 26 points in the first half. Terry was the only Boston guard held scoreless, and even he got three decent looks and was active defensively with two steals.
The Celtics got to the rim at will, and when Rondo and Barbosa were not doing so on their own, Rondo was setting up his teammates for high-percentage looks. Rondo handed out nine of the Celtics’ 15 assists.
Thanks to their defense, the Celtics were able to get out and run often. They forced nine turnovers and had 13 fastbreak points, including seven in the second quarter alone.
Second quarter, 5:24, Celtics 44-36: Rondo has some eye-popping games, but it is the games in between those marquee games where stars truly set themselves apart. It is one thing to go for 20 and 20 against the Heat. It is another thing to build up that same sort of adrenaline for a Sunday evening game in Orlando.
Rondo surgically sliced apart the Magic in the first half of this one. He hit three of his first five shots and dealt out eight assists without committing a single turnover.
Second quarter, 8:18, Celtics 38-31: Barbosa had a big scoring night in mind, apparently. The lightning-quick guard scored 11 of Boston’s first 34 points before Davis stepped in and drew a dubious charge on one of Barbosa’s forays to the hoop. How Barbosa moves so fast is a mystery. He glides more than runs, and he seems to slow down his strides when he speeds up. It really is crazy to watch.
Barbosa hit all four shots he took and also picked up three fouls in three minutes, 35 seconds. Now that is making an impact.
End of first quarter, Celtics lead 28-22: The bench is getting into a habit of giving the Celtics a little bit of a different contribution every game. Doc Rivers would surely like that habit to continue.
Once again Leandro Barbosa gave Boston a boost off the bench, netting five straight points to extend the Celtics’ lead to six points. Andrew Nicholson, an intriguing low-post prospect out of St. Bonaventure, came through with two baskets late in the quarter to narrow the margin before Lee popped in a floater at the buzzer, but the Celtics’ bench played a large role in the team’s lead after one quarter of play.
Boston got 12 points from its reserves, led by Barbosa and Lee with five points each. Chris Wilcox only had two points but was a strong presence with his hustle and talking of defense.
First quarter, 1:33, Celtics 21-18: Moore had a tough time cracking the rotation in Boston, but with the Magic he has shown the skills that made him such an enticing talent out of Purdue in the first place. Fresh off the bench, the second-year guard drained back-to-back 3-pointers to briefly pull the Magic even with the Celtics at 16-16.
Courtney Lee and Rondo quickly wiped that tie off the scoreboard, but Celtics fans should take a moment to feel happy for the former C’s benchwarmer who is capitalizing on his opportunity in O-town.
First quarter, 6:02, Celtics 14-10: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have made a habit of getting their shots up early, since they both realize their time on the court is likely to be limited. Pierce and Garnett put up six shots combined in the first six minutes, with each player netting two buckets.
Rajon Rondo was the difference, as he often is, in the early going. Rondo assisted five of the Celtics’ six field goals, and his team needed all the help it could get. The Magic blocked three of Boston’s first 15 shots, which was surprising since Orlando is one of the league’s worst shot-blocking teams.
5:29 p.m.: Celtics fans will always hold a soft spot in their hearts for Glen Davis, and “Big Baby” has emerged as the Magic’s top post presence after the departure of Dwight Howard. In a dozen games — all starts — the 6-foot-9 Baton Rouge, La., native is averaging career highs of 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
Those numbers are not just fool’s gold from playing more minutes, either. Davis’ stats per 36 minutes (17.0 points, 10.2 rebounds) are also career bests, which means he is receiving an increased role for the Magic and is coming through.
Still, when Davis is your top player down low, that is not exactly great news. He showed with the Celtics that he is best as a complementary guy, and the Magic have predictably struggled without a glut of talent on the roster. Arron Afflalo is Orlando’s leading scorer at 15.3 points per game, although the team is counting on getting better now that Jameer Nelson has returned after missing the six games with a strained hamstring, groin and balky ankle.
The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: Jeff Green experienced a slight case of deja vu Friday when he faced his old teammates from Oklahoma City, and on Sunday the rest of the Celtics will enjoy something of a reunion in Orlando.
Glen Davis and E’Twaun Moore will face their old teammates for the first time this season when the Magic (5-7) and Celtics (7-6) meet up. For Moore, it will be his first shot at the organization that traded him to Houston in July as part of a three-team trade that brought Courtney Lee to Boston. Since getting waived by the Rockets four days after the trade, things have gone well for the former second-round draft pick.
The Magic signed Moore on Sept. 6, and the former Purdue Boilermaker became Orlando’s starting point guard while Jameer Nelson was injured. In 12 games with the Magic, Moore has averaged 11.1 points and 3.8 assists. He has already played more minutes (355) than he did all of last season with the Celtics (331).
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. ET.
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