Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 91, Magic 83
Celtics 91, Magic 83
Sleep on these Celtics once? Shame on you.
Sleep on these Celtics twice (in four days)? Wow... SHAME ON YOU!
When it became known that five key Celtics, including two starters and All-Stars, would not play in Monday’s game against Orlando, the entire Magic team fell asleep. The evidence to prove that point was plentiful by the end of the night: Orlando set several franchise records for offensive futility and completely quit on the court as the Celtics ran away with an 87-56 win.
On Thursday night in Orlando there was a different tone. The Magic wanted to come out and make a statement that Monday’s game was a fluke and that they are, in fact, a top-tier team. They proved that fact with authority in the first half of this contest as the Celtics struggled without the services of three of their five starters.
Orlando dominated the first 24 minutes of Thursday’s game with an aggressive defense that mirrored what Boston had tossed onto the floor three nights prior. The Celtics were limited to just 37 points in the half on 38.2 percent shooting and they committed 10 egregious turnovers.
The offensive struggles by Boston, combined with the Magic’s efficient scoring at the other end, helped Orlando jump ahead by as many as 27 points in the first half. The Magic held on tightly to a 21-point halftime advantage and headed into the locker room.
And promptly fell asleep.
While Orlando went into nap time, the Celtics exploded at the offensive end thanks to huge performances by captain Paul Pierce and rookie E’Twaun Moore.
Pierce got the ball rolling for Boston at the offensive end by scoring six of the team’s first eight points of the second half, four of which came from perimeter jumpers. Toward the end of the third period, as Boston stormed back to make this a game, the captain switched roles to distributor.
Boston made five field goals over the final 2:49 of the third, and Pierce assisted on four of them. One of those buckets was one of Moore’s four 3-pointers on the night. The fifth basket that was made during that stretch just so happened to come off the fingers of Pierce from downtown, a basket that brought the Celtics within nine points of the Magic.
The onslaught by Boston continued in the fourth period, as Pierce and Moore combined to score the team’s first 10 points of the quarter. Orlando managed just one free throw during that span. Kevin Garnett’s 20-foot jumper with 8:21 left in the game tied it all up at 76-76.
Just like that, in the span of just 14:03 of playing time, the Celtics had completely wiped out a 21-point deficit. As you can imagine, the Magic didn’t exactly wake up from their collective coma once this one morphed back into a game.
Pierce and Moore continued to do their work and wound up combining for a total of 32 points in the second half. To give you an idea of how much scoring that was, the entire Magic team combined to score 25 points in the entire second half. Pierce finished the contest with game highs of 24 points and 10 assists, while Moore totaled a career-high 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
In a near mirror image of what took place on Monday in Boston, the Orlando Magic took for granted the opportunity that was in front of them. The Magic thought that they could walk through the entirety of Monday’s game since so many Celtics were sidelined, and they were wrong. They Then believed the shorthanded Celtics would quit after halftime of Thursday’s game, and they were wrong once again.
Key Box Score Line
E’Twaun Moore had the best game of his career with 16 points off the bench, but those points don’t happen if Paul Pierce isn’t going through Orlando’s defense like a hot knife through butter. Pierce went from invisible in the first half, when he scored only five points on 0-for-5 shooting, to unstoppable in the second half, when he totaled 19 points, six rebounds and eight assists.
The captain was the sparkplug to Boston’s monumental comeback. He shot the ball. He passed the ball. He rebounded the ball. He played by far the game high in minutes, as he was on the court for 44:24 of the 48 minutes. He nearly grabbed a triple-double on the road. He frustrated Orlando’s defense, beginning with Quentin Richardson, and sent the Magic into a tailspin.
Thursday’s incredible win does not happen if Pierce is not on the floor. The Magic had no answer for him in the second half, and that’s why the Celtics are flying back to Boston riding a three-game winning streak with spirits as high as the plane they're riding in.
Box Score Nuggets
- Orlando led by as many as 27 points in the game.
- Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley tied for the game high in turnovers with five apiece.
- No player in the game made more than seven field goals.
- Paul Pierce tallied game highs of 24 points and 10 assists.
- Dwight Howard grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds.
- Ryan Anderson scored 12 points in the first quarter and then none in the final three.
- E'Twaun Moore scored a career-high 16 points off the bench on 5-of-6 shooting. He made all four of his 3s.
- Orlando was whistled for three technical fouls.
- The Celtics played without three of their starters (Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Jermaine O'Neal).
- Orlando shot just 18-of-31 from the free-throw line.
- Kevin Garnett totaled 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
- Moore finished with a game-high plus-27 in the plus/minus category.
- The Magic scored just eight points in the fourth quarter, and 25 total points in the second half.
- The Celtics made 10 of their 21 3-pointers.
- Orlando's 58 points in the first half surpassed the 56 points they scored in all of Monday's game against Boston.
- Dwight Howard played just 6:43 of the first half, and then the entire 24 minutes of the second half.
Quote of the Night
Brandon Bass on the importance of this win: "This game was a character builder for us. We were down tonight and we fought back as a group starting on the defensive end, rebounding, and we rode 'The Truth’s' back."