THE FACTS: Paul Pierce nearly finished with second straight triple-double (14 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists), helping the Boston Celtics pull away in the second half from the Orlando Magic for a comfortable 97-84 win Friday night. It was the third straight victory for the Celtics (23-23), all coming without Rajon Rondo who will miss the season with a torn ACL. Stifling defense and balanced scoring was the formula again for Boston's success against the Magic (14-32), as Jeff Green led all scorers with 17 points off the bench. Six Celtics players finished in double figures overall. J.J. Redick had a team-high 15 points for Orlando. The shorthanded Magic have now dropped eight consecutive games.
QUOTABLE: "I'm capable of doing a little bit of everything. Just trying to give the game what it needs. So, regardless, if it's playing Rondo's role, [Jared Sullinger] role as a rebounder, I'm going to try to fill the needs of what this ball club needs."
-- Paul Pierce
THE STAT: The Celtics continue to play unselfish offensive basketball without the services of their All-Star point guard. Boston's 30 assists on the night was their third highest total in a game this season.
TURNING POINT: The Magic gave the Celtics a scare in the third quarter, closing a 11-point halftime gap to three points, before Boston's second unit regained control with a 9-2 run to push the deficit back into double digits. The Magic failed to seriously threaten Boston's lead in the fourth quarter.
QUOTABLE II: ""I thought they responded the way they should. They know someone -- you know, guys are out and it's not like it's a maybe, it's a sure thing -- and guys just understand other guys are going to get a shot."
-- Celtics coach Doc Rivers on the team's play without Rondo and Sullinger
HOT: Kevin Garnett -- The 18-year veteran continues to defy his advanced age on both sides of the floor. Garnett finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes of action. It was his third double-double in the team's past four games.
NOT: J.J. Redick -- Boston blitzed multiple defenders at Orlando's sharp shooting guard all night, and it proved to be effective. Redick shot just 33 percent of the field on 5-for-15 shooting, and turned the ball over three times in 33 minutes.
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Pierce -- Boston's captain has stepped up all facets of his game with the Celtics playing shorthanded in the last three contests. Since Rondo's ACL injury, Pierce has posted 15.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and seven assists per game.
ROOKIE WATCH: Andrew Nicholson -- The former St. Bonaventure star played a career high 32 minutes in the 10th start of his NBA career. The power forward posted the first double-double of his career as well, finishing with 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.
NOTABLE: Jameer Nelson left the game with a left forearm contusion in the second quarter. He did not return. ... The Celtics announced before the game that Sullinger underwent successful lumbar disc surgery today at the New England Baptist Hospital. He is expected to be ready to return for training camp next season. ... Fab Melo made his NBA debut over the game's final two minutes for the Celtics. The center was scoreless, but managed to force his first career steal. ... Arron Afflalo missed his third straight game for Orlando with a calf injury. ...The Celtics have won seven consecutive regular season games against the Magic.
UP NEXT: For Orlando, Saturday @ Milwaukee, Monday @ Philadelphia, Wednesday vs. LA Clippers. For Boston, Sunday vs. LA Clippers, Wednesday @ Toronto, Thursday vs. LA Lakers.