Live Blog: Celtics vs. Magic

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Live Blog: Celtics vs. Magic Final, Magic 96-89: It seems as if each loss is a bit more tough to take for the Celtics, and that would qualify here.


Boston blows an 11-point second half lead, falling victim to a 25-2 Orlando run in the third quarter. It’s the ninth time since Christmas that the C’s have lost a game in which they led by at least 10, this being perhaps the worst of those.


Meanwhile, the Magic take the season series 3-1 and grab sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference.


It’s the last home game for the Celtics until Feb. 23, and sends them to New Orleans on Wednesday in need of some momentum entering the All-Star break.


Fourth quarter, 18.9 seconds, Magic 96-89: Rashard Lewis was the one who scored in the final seconds to defeat the Celtics the last time the two teams met, and he may have put an end to this one with a runner to beat the shot-clock buzzer.


The C’s need three quickly and then a turnover to have a chance here.


Fourth quarter, 43.4 seconds, Magic 94-87: Kevin Garnett is fouled and has a chance to cut it to five at the line.


Fourth quarter, 51.0 seconds, Magic 94-87: You do not need a 3-pointer yet as it will be a two-possession game regardless of whether you score from inside or outside the arc.


But if it’s two, the C’s will want to make it quick.


Fourth quarter, 1:09, Magic 94-86: There is life, but not much, as Ray Allen heads to the line with a chance to cut it to six.


Fourth quarter, 2:17, Magic 94-82: On most days you could count on the Magic to miss a few free throws to help you out. Not today.


Orlando, which ranks last in the league with a 71.5 percent mark from the line, is 23-of-29.


Fourth quarter, 2:30, Magic 92-82: Another unlikely 3-pointer by Rajon Rondo gets it back to a 10-point game. The Celts simply need stops, but they have not had many in the second half.


Fourth quarter, 3:37, Magic, 91-79: Rajon Rondo has been on the floor about a half-dozen times in this one, the latest after flailing to intercept a pass. It wouldn’t have mattered if he did as Glen Davis had already fouled Dwight Howard, who hits both free throws.


Fourth quarter, 4:00, Magic 89-79: The C’s have taken 11 more shots than the Magic in this quarter.


Fourth quarter, 5:14, Magic 89-78: Dwight Howard gets whistled for foul No. 5


Fourth quarter, 5:18, Magic 89-76: Since the Celtics cannot do much against the Magic on the court right now, Glen Davis figured he would take care of them on the bench.


After picking up a foul, Davis flails into the Orlando bench. That’s a whole lotta man landing in the front row.


Fourth quarter, 7:09, Magic 89-74: The Magic’s seventh 3-pointer of the second half comes in the form of a Mickael Pietrus bomb. Again, that is seven 3-pointers in under 17 minutes.


Can we defend the perimeter here?


Doc Rivers has called a timeout to get his starters back in, but they were on the floor when this thing started to go south, so it may mean little to have them on the floor.


Fourth quarter, 7:55, Magic 86-74: After one 3-pointer is taken away from the Celtics, Glen Davis goes the conventional route for three points and it’s a 12-point game.


Fourth quarter, 8:44, Magic 84-71: Eddie House’s 3-pointer is in fact reduced to two as his toe was on the line.


Fourth quarter, 8:44, Magic 84-72: Eddie House again coming alive in the fourth quarter to give the Celtics a pulse. It appears as if they may review the shot to see if his foot was behind the line.


House had all of his 10 points in the fourth in Friday’s win over New Jersey.


Fourth quarter, 9:54, Magic 84-69: A pair of missed free throws by Dwight Howard is a rare positive for the Celtics.


Fourth quarter, 11:30, Magic 79-62: The fourth quarter begins how the third ends as Mickael Pietrus drills the Magic’s ninth 3-pointer.


End of third quarter, Magic 76-62: 25-2.


That is the run the Magic have to close the third quarter, most of it coming after Dwight Howard picked up his fourth foul.


In the quarter, Orlando forced eight Celtics turnovers, shot 12-of-17 (4-of-5 on 3-pointers) and basically silenced an already tame Sunday afternoon crowd. The Celtics’ last basket came with 7:16 to go in the third.


It’s a complete reversal from the last game for the Magic, who were outscored 39-17 in the third quarter against Washington on Friday. They rallied a bit in the fourth but still lost a game they once led by 21 points.


Third quarter, 1:33, Magic 70-62: Nineteen straight Orlando points before Tony Allen hits two free throws.


Third quarter, 2:35, Magic 68-60: This is stunning. The Magic have now scored 17 straight points after Dwight Howard’s thunderous dunk.


Boston can’t do a thing on offense and has allowed Orlando go get a ton of open looks.


Third quarter, 3:37, Magic 63-60: Vince Carter buries a 3-pointer to give the Magic their first lead since early in the second quarter.


Third quarter, 4:34, 60-60: Obviously I assumed that Dwight Howard would go to the bench with his fourth foul, but he’s still out there and just had a blocked shot that led to Rashard Lewis’s game-tying 3-pointer.


It’s a 14-3 run for the Magic, who overcame a 14-point second-half deficit in their last meeting with the Celtics.


Boston’s only points over the last three-plus minutes have come on a Rajon Rondo 3-pointer that was only hoisted because the shot clock was running down.


Third quarter, 5:58, Celtics 60-54: Dwight Howard is whistled for his fourth foul, and it was a pretty hard one that sent Rajon Rondo to the floor.


Howard had begun to assert himself a bit here in the third, so it hurts the Magic to see him shuttled to the bench again. He has had a spotty season series with the Celtics. This is not the first time they have lured him into foul trouble.


Boston has four turnovers to Orlando’s one in the third. In the first half, the Magic had 10 giveaways to the Celtics’ three.


Third quarter, 6:48, Celtics 60-54: Two missed free throws from Rajon Rondo and the second results in a fast-break hoop for Jameer Nelson.


But Rondo makes up for it moments later by beating the shot clock with a 3-pointer. He has done that a ton of times this season.


Third quarter, 8:49, Celtics 57-46: As I fire off that last note about Garnett’s first basket, he gets his second on an alley-oop from Rajon Rondo.


Nice to see a little lift from KG, although the play was all Rondo.


And just as I’m about to fire off this one, Garnett scores again. That’s six points in a few minutes after none in the first half.


Third quarter, 10:32, Celtics 53-44: Kevin Garnett finally gets on the board here with the Celtics’ first points of the half.


Third quarter, 11:55, Celtics 51-40: We are underway in the second half and Dwight Howard is out there with his third foul. See if the C’s try to get that fourth early on.


Boston has a 28-14 advantage in points in the paint. 


Halftime, Celtics 51-40: And that’s why Rajon Rondo doesn’t score 25 a game — he’s just too good a passer (see prior note).


It’s a bullet delivery to Ray Allen that gives the Celtics their largest lead going into the break.


The end of the half offered up a pretty stellar display of basketball for the Celtics, who would love to get a split of the season series with Orlando.


The Magic were held to just six points over the last seven-plus minutes of the half and go into the break with 10 turnovers. Boston has been busy with its hands on defense, getting a ton of deflections. Doc Rivers has said many times how much he loves that.


Rondo and Allen have 11 points apiece, continuing a hot streak for the backcourt tandem. Kevin Garnett is scoreless.


Back in a bit to see if the C’s can avoid a second-half collapse such as the one they had against Orlando two weeks ago.


Second quarter, 1:19, Celtics 49-40: Rajon Rondo is developing into someone who could score 25-30 a game easily if he wanted to. He just went past three Magic defenders and got the rim in a heartbeat for a three-point play.


Rondo leads the C’s with 11.


Second quarter, 1:55, Celtics 46-36: Referee Mark Wunderlich just took about 10 seconds to loudly count out the five players on both teams while all 10 of them stood around wondering what was going on.


Not sure what is going on in the Wunderlich household these days.


More importantly, the C’s are on an 8-0 run after Paul Pierce hits a 3-pointer.


Second quarter, 4:41, Celtics 38-34: The Celtics’ starting five have all returned and you have to like the bench’s new look. Remember, some of these players have never even been in a game together (like Daniels and Davis).


A Ray Allen 3-pointer makes it a five-point game moments later.


Second quarter, 5:41, Celtics 38-34: It’s amazing the versatility that Marquis Daniels brings in terms of giving Doc Rivers so many more options with the second unit.


Already we’ve seen four different players bring the ball up and the reserves are rolling right now with Ray Allen back in.


We should see the minutes for Allen and Paul Pierce begin to reduce, as well. In a good way, of course.


Second quarter, 7:39, Celtics 34-32: We wrote a bit about how Eddie House seems to get hot in the fourth quarter. But he does go through some cold stretches prior to that.


House just chucked up an airball from about 18 feet that missed by about three.


Second quarter, 8:32, Celtics 34-29: A hot start to the first quarter for the Celtics is followed up by a hot start to the second.


They’ve hit 5-of-6 here in the second, with Marquis Daniels scoring on all three of his shots.


Daniels has made a play toy of J.J. Redick, brushing off any rust he may have had early on.


Second quarter, 9:29, Celtics 30-27: Marquis Daniels makes his first shot but it was notable what happened right before it.


Doc Rivers said that it will take time for Daniels to re-learn the team’s sets and on the possession in which Daniels scored, he was a bit lost.


He bunched up on one side with Eddie House and the look on Daniels’ face for a second was one of confusion. He shook his head as if to say “I shouldn’t be standing here” and instead went inside to get good position and score.


Daniels has a pull-up jumper moments later to put the C’s up three.


Second quarter, 11:52, Celtics 24-23: A “Go Saints” sign shown on the big screen draws plenty of support from a decidedly anti-Colts crowd in Boston.


End of first quarter, Celtics 24-23: Marquis Daniels gets a loud ovation when he checks in with 4.3 seconds left in the first quarter.


We mentioned earlier that it’s been since Dec. 4 that Daniels has played, but his last home game in uniform came on Nov. 27.


As for the action into which he steps, it’s a bit up and down. The Magic are dominating the boards but have seven turnovers. Meanwhile, the Celtics opened 4-of-5 but shot just 5-of-14 since.


The point guards have shined. Rajon Rondo has six points and a pair of steals, while Jameer Nelson leads all scorers with seven points.


First quarter, 1:10, Magic 21-20: Referee Matt Boland takes a spill running up the court and the crowd loves it.


First quarter, 2:50, Magic 19-16: Jameer Nelson hits again and it’s a 9-0 run for the Magic.


First quarter, 3:24, Magic 17-16: A Jameer Nelson 3-pointer gives Orlando its first lead since 3-2 and prompts Doc Rivers to call for a timeout.


The Celtics offense, so fluid on the first five or six possessions, has stalled. The Green have just one field goal to show for the last two minutes, 42 seconds.


First quarter, 4:29, Celtics 16-14: Ah yes, our first Marcin Gortat sighting of the game.


The little-known Gortat has had some nice efforts against the Celtics this season and gets a board and a bucket upon entry to this one.


First quarter, 5:27, Celtics 14-10: A lot of Magic players were looking around to pin blame on each other after this recent sequence, which saw a Ray Allen dunk get followed up with an Orlando turnover.


First quarter, 7:07, Celtics 12-10: Less than five minutes in and I’ve spotted my first Peyton Manning jersey in the Garden. He seemed to be selling something.


First quarter, 7:40, Celtics 12-8: A consistent bugaboo for the Celtics all season, defensive rebounding, has hurt them early in this one.


Orlando already has five second-chance points with both of its rebounds coming on the offensive end.


Boston has been very economical, however, working the clock on most possessions. It has made 4-of-5 shots and has yet to turn the ball over.


First quarter, 8:53, Celtics 8-5: Four different Celtics have already scored. Nice balance in the early-going.


First quarter, 9:57, Celtics 4-3: Great start for Paul Pierce as he hits his first shot to get the Celtics on the board.


Matt Barnes counters with a 3-pointer for Orlando. It was the last time these two teams met that Barnes and Pierce had a near fight.


First quarter, 11:55, 0-0: We are underway in this matchup for second place (for now) in the Eastern Conference.


Following this affair, the C’s have two days off before a visit to New Orleans and then five more prior to a trip out west. The Magic, meanwhile, play three games before next Sunday’s All-Star break.


2:04 p.m.: After confirmation that Paul Pierce is back, we have the Celtics regular starting lineup back together.


Pierce starts alongside Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. It’s a lineup that is 24-8 together this season.


The Magic toss out Jameer Nelson and Vince Carter at guard, Matt Barnes and Rashard Lewis at the forward spots and All-Star Dwight Howard underneath.


1:45 p.m.: Greetings from the Garden, where Doc Rivers has just confirmed both that Paul Pierce will start after a two-game absence and that Marquis Daniels is in uniform.


With Pierce and Daniels back, it puts the Celtics at full power for the first time all season. Glen Davis and Daniels have never been in uniform together in the same game, as Davis returned weeks after Daniels went out.


It gives Rivers plenty to work with in terms of his rotations, but do not expect heavy minutes from Daniels. Rivers said it is clear in the few practices Daniels has had with the team that he still needs to learn some of the team’s sets. Essentially, Daniels was still learning a few things when he went out in early December with a thumb injury.


These last two games before the All-Star break will serve to get Daniels up to speed and maybe by late-February we can see what this team is supposed to look like.


12:15 p.m.: If you are looking for something other than Puppy Bowl VI to carry you to kickoff today, there’s a nice option at TD Garden, where the Celtics host the Orlando Magic in a battle for second place in the Eastern Conference.

The two teams enter tied, seven games behind front-running Cleveland. Boston, at 32-16, is just percentage points ahead of the 33-17 Magic.

Riding their first three-game winning streak since Christmas, the C’s may get Paul Pierce back from a foot injury that robbed him of the last two games. Pierce announced himself “good to go” at Saturday’s practice, but head coach Doc Rivers said he will wait and see.

It remains to be seen whether Marquis Daniels will be back. He has not played since Dec. 4 due to thumb surgery but has also been practicing.

While Boston has a chance for its first four-game winning streak since mid-December, it is not exactly coming off the best effort of the season. The Green entered the fourth quarter of Friday’s matchup with abysmal New Jersey on the wrong end of the score, but rallied for a 96-87 triumph.

Orlando, meanwhile, had a four-game winning streak snapped in a one-point loss to lowly Washington on Friday. The Magic led by 19 after one quarter before getting outscored 61-35 over the second and third.

It’s the final home game before the All-Star break for the Celtics and their last Garden affair until Feb. 23. We will be courtside to bring you all the action. Tip is set for 2:30 p.m.

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