Celtics 86, Magic 77
The Celtics scored when they needed to down the stretch, but today's game was won with their impressive second quarter run that helped them take a 38-27 lead into halftime.
As you can surmize from that halftime score, defense was at its best in the first half of this game. Although both teams struggled offensively, it was Boston's defense that showed its superior nature. Orlando was limited to only eight points in the quarter -- only two came over the final 7:51 of the period -- and was absolutely dominated by the C's. And while the Magic were missing from everywhere on the court, Boston finally found a rhythm offensively. Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen combined to take the Celtics on an 18-2 run to finish the first half by scoring seven, six and five points, respectively.
Despite one of the ugliest first half performances of the season (probably for both teams), Boston somehow found a way to make that run to close out the half and take a double-digit lead into the second half. The lead was cut down to three in the final minutes of the game, so had the Celtics not built up that 11-point lead, their Christmas wishes may have been spoiled.
Key Box Score Line
Yes, he finished the game with eight turnovers. Yes, he also racked up four personal fouls. But Rajon Rondo won this game for Boston. The Celtics' point guard put his team on his back and they rode him to victory today, as he pushed himself to near-triple-double numbers and found a way to score when no other Celtic could. He played a courageous 46 minutes and 43 seconds today, including the entire fourth quarter. Without Paul Pierce in the lineup, Rondo was the go-to guy today.
Box Score Nuggets
- Replacing Paul Pierce, Tony Allen racked up 16 points and four rebounds in his first start of the season.
- Despite Kendrick Perkins' rather pedestrian numbers (six points, four rebounds, two assists), he had the highest +/- rating of the game at +19.
- Perkins dominated Dwight Howard defensively yet again, limiting the All-Star center to only five points on 1-of-7 shooting from the floor.
- Rajon Rondo had zero assists at halftime but finished with eight.
- Rashard Lewis had zero points at halftime but finished with 19.
- Howard finished the game with seven turnovers.
- Orlando made only five of their 26 3-point attempts.
- Boston outrebounded Orlando 48-43.
- Howard recorded a game-high 20 rebounds.
- Vince Carter, who finished with 27 points, was the only player in the game to break the 20-point barrier.
- Orlando had only 27 points at halftime.
- The Magic finished the game with only seven assists and five fast break points.
- Boston outscored Orlando in the paint by a 44-32 count.
- Not a single Magic player had a positive +/- rating, showing Boston's dominance of nearly all 48 minutes of playing time.
- Both teams made 20 free throws.
Quote of the Night
Ray Allen on beating Orlando in a tough situation: "We think about when they beat us in our building and we have played a lot of games on the road in the month of December and here we are playing on National TV on Christmas Day, so it has so many distractions for us. We talk about being a good road team and how to manage our energy and our bodies. This was a game that we looked forward to."