Ford Keys to the Game: Magic 80, Celtics 91

Ford Keys to the Game

Magic 80, Celtics 91

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Ray Allen

Dwight Howard reaches out and attempts to save a ball from going out of bounds during Boston's 91-80 win over Orlando on Super Bowl Sunday.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

The first half of today’s 91-80 win over the Orlando Magic was evidence that the Boston Celtics can beat the their Eastern Conference rival even when they aren’t on their A-game. The second half was even more e that when the C’s play to their abilities, the Magic simply can’t hang around.

We’re not quite sure how, but the Boston Celtics managed to take a 46-43 lead into halftime of this afternoon’s win over the Orlando Magic despite some very poor play. Boston shot only 42.4 percent from the field in the first half, took 17 less shots than the Magic and committed nine turnovers.

Boston got back to its natural style of play in the second half and executed extremely well at both ends of the court. That execution was on full display when the third quarter began, helping the C’s open up the second half on a 7-0 spurt that essentially put the game away.

Paul Pierce got it all started by hitting a pretty turnaround, fade-away jumper from about 10 feet out to put the C’s ahead by five. The C’s then forced Jameer Nelson into a missed 3-pointer – a trend the Magic grew accustomed to this afternoon – and Kevin Garnett nailed a shot from seven feet out to bump the lead up to seven. Orlando couldn’t get another deep jumper to fall on its next possession when Ryan Anderson missed on a 22-foot shot, and just nine seconds after that miss Ray Allen drilled a 3-pointer to give the Celtics their largest lead of the game to that point at 53-43.

Stan Van Gundy, sensing the game was slipping away from his team, called an immediate timeout in hopes that it would kill the Celtics’ momentum, but it was to no avail. Boston continued to dominate defensively and the Magic did not score a point in the third quarter until 3:13 had already run off the clock. By that point, the C’s had already built their double-digit lead, and they never looked back from there.

Key Box Score Line

It had been a while since Rajon Rondo dominated a game from start to finish, but he ended that drought this afternoon. Rondo dropped in a season-high 26 points against the Orlando Magic on Super Bowl Sunday by hitting nine of his 15 shot attempts.

This was one of those games where it was clear that Rondo was in attack mode and he knew he had the hot hand. He did not shy away from jumpers and calmly sank perimeter shots on numerous occasions this afternoon. He also bucked the trend of poor free throw shooting – he shoots only 51.6 percent from the line this season – by making seven of his nine attempts from the charity stripe. In addition to the scoring, Rondo also dished out seven assists.

He carried that dominance over to the defensive end, too. While he carved up the Magic for 37 minutes of the game at one end, he also shut down Orlando’s point guard trio at the other end. Jameer Nelson recorded only 10 points and three assists and was a complete nonfactor in the game. Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon each went scoreless off the bench for Orlando and totaled only three assists.

It was a dominant performance by Rondo at both ends of the court against what may be the deepest team in the league in terms of point guards. Rondo went out of the box today to show why he’s an All-Star; he didn’t tally a ridiculous amount of assists, but he sure did leave his mark on the game.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Dwight Howard scored 22 points in the first half, but only six in the second half.
  • Rajon Rondo scored a season-high 26 points.
  • The Magic were limited to just 34.4 percent shooting from the floor.
  • Howard was the only Orlando player to score more than 12 points.
  • Orlando's backup point guards, Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon, both went scoreless.
  • Orlando shot just 3-of-24 from beyond the 3-point arc.
  • Kendrick Perkins and Howard tied for the game-high in rebounds with 13.
  • Perkins dominated the glass, but did not score a single point.
  • Perkins played almost the exact amount of time this afternoon (32:24) as he did Friday night (32:31).
  • Only five players on Orlando's roster recorded an assist, with none dishing out more than four.
  • In comparison, seven of the 10 Celtics who appeared in the game recorded an assist, led by Rondo's seven.
  • Howard did not block a shot for his third consecutive game.
  • Orlando committed only 12 turnovers.
  • Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett scored 18 and 16 points, respectively.
  • The Magic were whistled for three technical fouls (Earl Clark, Howard and Jameer Nelson).
  • Both teams scored 38 points in the paint.
  • All of Orlando's reserves scored either zero or eight points. Clark and J.J. Redick each notched eight points, while the rest of the bench went scoreless.
  • Boston attempted 34 free throws, making 28, compared to just 16 attempts for Orlando.

Quote of the Night

Paul Pierce on the team's bonding and closeness: "Well this is a very close knit team. I mean, this is one of the closer teams, it kind of reminds me of the team in 08. It’s like when Marquis goes down it’s like your brother, when Delonte goes down it’s like your brother. If you ever have a family member and something ever happens to them you don’t feel right. And we’re around each other so much; plane, bus, we even go to each other’s houses so it’s like we created this bond with one another and when something bad happens to him we all feel for him but the rest of us try and rally together and that’s what you kind of saw in those two injuries."