Magic 84, Celtics 96
Make that 94-0 -- save the history for a later date.
The Boston Celtics came out of the gates tonight and dominated the first quarter, taking a commanding 30-19 lead after the first 12 minutes of play. That lead ballooned to 21 at one point in the second quarter on the strength of nine ridiculous minutes from Nate Robinson, who dropped 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting in that span.
But like champions do -- and the Orlando Magic were the defending Eastern Conference champions -- the Magic would not quit. Orlando trimmed a 20-point deficit down to 13 over the final five minutes of the first half, giving the Magic a little momentum heading into the locker room. As we all saw in this series, momentum can hold a lot of weight, and you had to wonder what would happen when the third period began.
Well, the C's answered that question, and in a big way.
In a sequence that was eerily similar to what Boston used to open the second half of Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers -- a game Boston won by 32 points -- the Celtics took this contest by the horns and rode it all the way to victory.
Each team scored a quick bucket to open the third period and keep the lead at 13 points, but that's when Ray Allen decided to change the game. The Celtics ran a beautiful set on the offensive end that resulted in a wide open 3-pointer by Allen that put the C's ahead by 16 with 10:36 remaining in the third. Then, just 38 seconds later, Boston's sharpshooter pulled up for another from the corner and dropped it through the net to up that lead to 19.
If you can ever hit back-breaking shots in the first two minutes of the second half, those were them. Oh, and by the way, after Orlando missed two more shots at their end of the court, Paul Pierce dropped in a trey for good measure to put this game completely out of reach at 22 points.
That was essentially the end of the game, as the Magic did not make a single threat from that point forward. Allen and Pierce put the game in the Celtics' hands with those back-to-back-to-back 3s, and they didn't let up from that point forward.
Key Box Score Line
Many captains gain that title as a result of their vocal leadership of a team. Paul Pierce possesses that ability, and he'll use it when he needs to, but tonight he exemplified his captainship by leading by example.
Boston's leader was exactly that tonight, and in three separate categories. Pierce recorded game-highs of 31 points and 13 rebounds to go along with five assists and two steals. Those points came via a very efficient 9-of-15 shooting performance from the floor. In addition to his incredible statistics, No. 34 was able to clean up the one area that had been hampering him in this series -- turnovers. He gave the ball up only twice tonight during a game-high 44:53 of playing time.
Pierce did everything he could to quiet all of the talk about historic comebacks and collapses. He sniffed blood tonight, and he wasn't interested in heading back to Orlando for a Game 7. No, he was interested in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and he'll now be a part of that game at 9 p.m. Thursday night.
Box Score Nuggets
- Paul Pierce recorded game-highs of 31 points, 13 rebounds and 44:53 of playing time.
- The Celtics outrebounded the Magic 45-35.
- Boston recorded 20 points on the fast break compared to only 12 for Orlando.
- Rajon Rondo dished out a game-high six assists.
- The Celtics shot 10-of-22 from 3-point range, good for 45.5 percent.
- Orlando, on the other hand, shot 6-of-22 from 3-point range, good for 27.3 percent.
- The Magic recorded only 14 assists as a team.
- Dwight Howard led the Magic with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
- Four Celtics grabbed at least five rebounds.
- Nate Robinson scored 13 points in a span of 8:46 of the second quarter.
- Orlando shot only 16-of-27 from the free-throw line.
- Boston shot 22-of-27 from the free-throw line.
- Both teams finished with three blocked shots.
- Orlando's four quarters of scoring went like this, in succession: 19, 23, 19, 23.
- Boston committed 17 turnovers that led to 26 points for Orlando.
- Pierce shot 9-of-10 from the free-throw line and 4-of-5 from downtown.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on the team's quest to win a second title in three years: "We've talked about that that we want to join that club. No one can ever take away the first title. But we want to join another club too."