End of game, Celtics 86-77: The key: Boston holds Orlando to just better than 30 percent shooting and gets big performances from Rondo (17 points, 13 boards, eight dimes) and Tony Allen(14 points, 14 rebounds). KG appears to be OK after taking a hard fall in the final minute of the game, and Ray has a huge second half, scoring 15 to keep Boston ahead after Orlando did its best to rally.
The C's and Magic now have a split in their season series.
Fourth quarter, 0:30, Celtics 82-75: Ray hits both (has scored 15 in the second half now), and Van Gundy calls his last timeout. That should just about do it.
Fourth quarter, 0:30, Celtics 80-75: Clutch elbow jumper from Ray. Lewis misses at the other end, and Orlando commits the foul in transition. Hit these, and the C's have it.
Fourth quarter, 1:02, Celtics 78-75: They left Rashard open. He torched the C's from the corner (now has 19), and Garnett got hurt on the play. This is a good example of a terrible swing in a game. Rondo has to take the ball to the rim on the upcoming possession.
Fourth quarter, 1:08, Celtics 78-72: Nelson drives for a bucket at one end, KG draws a foul and coolly sinks both free throws at the other. Expect a trey from Lewis on the next possession. C's have to come over the top of picks.
Fourth quarter, 1:26, Celtics 76-70: Timeout Van Gundy. Here's a question: Less then two minutes left, you're up six. Do you want Rondo shooting an outside jumper with 10 seconds left on the shot clock? No? Neither would I.
Fourth quarter, 1:50, Celtics 76-70: Rashard has made it a two-possession game on a strong drive through the lane. It's clear both teams are exhausted. It'll be key for the C's to guard the 3 on the other side of this timeout. Check out the turnover stats now: 19 for Boston, 18 for Orlando.
Fourth quarter, 5:35, Celtics 74-64: Rondo continues to wow, stealing a pass, taking it coast-to-coast before behind-the-backing it to Tony for the dunk. Rondo's line now: 17 points, 13 rebounds, eight dimes.
Fourth quarter, 7:18, Celtics 70-64: On Tony's miss from the line, the Celtics are now 14-for-22 on free throws. No wonder the door is suddenly open.
Fourth quarter, 8:04, Celtics 69-61: Rondo has four offensive rebounds. Insane. But the Magic are rallying in the paint.
Fourth quarter, 9:15, Celtics 65-58: Orlando is 4-of-20 from 3-point range (its bread and butter). It needs to stay that way if the Celts wanna hang on.
Fourth quarter, 11:22, Celtics 63-56: Rashard Lewis continues to heat up, hitting another 3 to begin his final period. He's got 12 after not hitting a field goal in the first half.
End of third quarter, Celtics 61-53: The Magic mounted a comeback on the backs of Vince and Rashard, who now have 21 and nine apiece now, respectively. Still, Orlando is about 30 percent from the field, and Dwight has just four points.
Third quarter, 3:28, Celtics 53-45: Magic closing the gap on relentless driving from Vince. And Rondo — the catalyst — now has four fouls. Fortunately he's guarding Jason Williams at the moment, so it shouldn't be too difficult to avoid more.
Third quarter, 5:00, Celtics 49-42: Problem is, Rondo missed both free throws. Boy, is he awful from the line or what?
Third quarter, 5:22, Celtics 49-40: Rondo gets back to basics with Orlando rallying: drives hard, grabs his own rebound, draws a foul. He's now got 10 boards to accompany 15 points. Is there any doubt he'll finally make the All Star team?
Third quarter, 6:44, Celtics 49-35: Vince has come to life again in the third, now with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and two steals. Tony's gotta put a stop to him fast — he's always been a momentum player.
Third quarter, 7:22, Celtics 44-33: Perk now has four fouls — this could become a problem in stopping Howard down the stretch.
Third quarter, 8:32, Celtics 42-29: Orlando's on pace to score about 50 points.
Third quarter, 9:21, Celtics 42-29: Tony attacks the rim again, drawing an and-one. He's filled in more than serviceably for the absent Pierce in this game: nine points, four boards.
Third quarter, 10:18, Celtics 39-27: Technical foul on Dwight, who argued a call after fouling Perk. He also now has four PF's. Guess we'll be seeing a lot of Gortat in the second half — could be a good mismatch for Perk. Van Gundy also earned a technical, but Ray missed the freebie.
Third quarter, 11:28, Celtics 38-27: Second half starts much the way the first went — a missed 3 by the Magic, followed by a turnover from the Celts.
End of half, Celtics 38-27: Defense has been the name of the game. Orlando shot 25 percent in the half, and both combined for 26 turnovers. The C's closed the half on an 18-2 run, getting most of it from Rondo (13) and Tony Allen (six in just 11 minutes). They also out-rebounded the home team 26-18 and scored 11 fast-break points.
Second quarter, 2:32, Celtics 34-27: A 14-2 run for Boston, prompted mostly by Tony and Rondo in the paint. Worry is, both of them have three fouls. Shooting update: Orlando is now shooting 28 percent from the floor.
Second quarter, 3:46, Celtics 30-25: And again — this time Tony gets into the paint in transition for the easy bucket. The Magic's pressure through the first 20 minutes seems to be wearing them thin.
Second quarter, 4:00, Celtics 28-25: Boston takes first lead of game, and it comes — no coincidence — on a drive from Rondo that resulted in an and-one. Keep pushing the ball into the paint in transition.
Second quarter, Tied 25-25: Celtics have it tied for first time since 0-0. But they're missing free throws like it's their job: 10-15 now.
Second quarter, 5:38, Magic 25-24: Rondo continues to get inside and draw fouls. He's now got eight points, three rebounds. The worry? Five turnovers and zero assists (likely a function of Pierce being out — Rondo's stepping up his shot attempts).
Second quarter, 6:20, Magic 25-24: Another foul on Gortat. Rondo draws this one on the drive, which means Dwight's gonna have to play more minutes than Van Gundy would like him to.
Second quarter, 7:07, Magic 25-22: Welcome to the season, Glen Davis. He comes in off the bench. This is unexpected, but likely comes because of the foul situation.
Second quarter, 8:08, Magic 23-20: Tony just showed his teammates the recipe for success in this type of game: Get to the lane, draw fouls.
Second quarter: 8:57: Magic 21-18: Player of the game to this point is Pietrus: nine points on 3-of-5 shooting and a steal.
Second quarter, 8:57, Magic 21-18: I can't tell if this is great defense or just really bad offense: Boston's shooting 33 percent, Orlando 30, and the combined turnover number now stands at 17. Ugly, ugly, ugly.
Second quarter, 10:40, Magic 21-18: Dwight just cleared Shelden out of the way for his first points of the game. The turnovers continue for both teams: Eight now for each.
End of first quarter, Magic 19-18: That first quarter fell in line with the teams' first matchup this year: lots of defense. Ray played the entire period, with Pierce out and a couple of others in foul trouble. Both clubs shot worse than 40 percent. Ray's gotta get going from outside for the C's, and Orlando needs Rashard Lewis and Dwight to score (they're 0-for-2 combined).
First quarter, 1:38, Magic 19-18: Here's an anomaly: 'Sheed's 3 went in, and the C's have cut the lead quickly with solid defense at the other end. Howard still hasn't scored.
First quarter, 2:48, Magic 19-13: Carter (10) and Pietrus (nine) have scored all the points for Orlando, who are torching the C's right now on jumpshots. The good news? They're not doing much in the paint or on fast breaks.
First quarter, 4:18, Magic 15-10: KG just elbowed Dwight in the face, earning a T and giving Orlando another freebie.
First quarter, 4:32, Magic 14-10: Celtics have already committed eight fouls. We're not even through the first quarter yet: two on 'Sheed; two on Perk; two on Tony.
First quarter, 5:24, Magic 12-10: Rondo's been the difference so far — six points, two rebounds.
First quarter, 5:44, Magic 12-8: 'Sheed doing a great job on Dwight with Perk on the bench. Superman hasn't attempted a shot yet. Problem is, the C's have already gifted the Magic with six turnovers.
First quarter, 7:44, Magic 12-6: Another foul on Tony, which means Pierce's sub now has two. Not good, with the C's already short-handed — no Paul, no Marquis.
First quarter, 9:28, Magic 8-2: Magic hit two quick 3's: one from Pietrus, another from Vince. This is exactly what Boston can't let Orlando do. They hit more than 10 treys a game — best in the league.
First quarter, 10:34, Magic 2-0: Orlando strikes first, on a jumper from Vince Carter.
First quarter, 10:50, Tied at 0: Three quick fouls for the Celtics (including two for Perk). Suffice it to say they're ticky-tack calls. Rasheed's gotta come in early.
2:32 p.m.: If Magic Johnson could marry Kobe Bryant, he would. I've never seen an "analyst" stroke someone's ego as aggressively as he does Kobe's.
2:24 p.m.: Here's a question to discuss amongst yourselves: Why are the Celtics far better on the road (12-1) this season than they are at home (10-4)? And does this mean they'd be better off with a No. 4 seed heading into the playoffs so they can play on the road? Crazy question, I know, but the record speaks for itself ….
1:58 p.m.: Tony Allen is apparently getting the nod in the starting lineup with Pierce out. Here's his chance to prove he's worth resigning this summer.
1:25 p.m.: Note: Both teams come into Orlando 4-1 over their last five. The Magic beat the C's 83-78 in their first matchup Nov. 20. Expect another defensive battle — especially with Paul out of the lineup.
1:20 p.m.: In response to a commenter's question, Pierce had swelling Tuesday in his right knee from an infection. He had the fluid drained Wednesday morning and will miss about two weeks (potentially less, according to Doc Rivers).
Fortunately, there's nothing wrong with the knee structurally.
9:30 a.m.:How about this for a Christmas gift? The two clubs that squared off in a seven-game marathon in last season's Eastern Conference semifinals are set for another tilt on Christmas in Orlando.
It's KG vs. Superman, Rondo vs. Jameer. Get your popcorn ready, and check back for live updates and analysis right here on NESN.com.
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