Magic Beat Celtics, Win Fourth Straight
Orlando 87, Boston 83
BOSTON, Nov. 28 (Ticker) -- Steve Francis and Jameer Nelson helped the Orlando Magic move above the .500 mark for the first time this season.
Francis had 19 points and seven assists and Nelson scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Magic outlasted the Boston Celtics 87-83.
On Monday, the backcourt of Francis and Nelson paced the Magic to their first win in Boston since December 30, 2000.
"We're accustomed to controlling the tempo, especially in the fourth quarter," Francis said. "It doesn't make a difference who brings the ball up the court. We have to be structured and organized, and I think we did a good job at the end."
Francis scored 15 points over the first three quarters before Nelson carried the offense in the final period. The second-year guard connected on a long 3-pointer with just under 10 minutes remaining to give the Magic a 69-67 lead.
Boston tied the game when Dan Dickau knocked down a jumper on the ensuing possession, but Francis' layup with 8:37 left ignited a 10-2 run and gave Orlando the lead for good.
Francis and Nelson combined for eight of Orlando's 10 points during the pivotal surge, which was capped by a pair of free throws from Dwight Howard that made it 79-71 with 4:56 left.
The Celtics cut their deficit to 83-81 with under a minute remaining, but Mark Blount had his feeble layup attempt rejected by Howard with 13 seconds left.
"I knew I had to make a big play at the end of the game for our team to win," Howard said. "It just so happened he was going up for a shot and I got a good block, so I'm just happy we won."
Hedo Turkoglu connected on all four of his free throws in the waning seconds to seal the victory for the Magic, who have a four-game winning streak for the first time since March 15-23, 2003.
Howard collected 10 points and 10 rebounds as Orlando snapped an eight-game road losing streak to Boston.
"He played hard and got that block at the end," Francis said. "That was crucial. He told me he was going to help me get open because he saw how they were playing him. Most of the open looks I got all night were on his side, coming off his screens."
"We had lost (eight) in a row coming in here, so that was a little bit of incentive," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "We just wanted to get a win in here, Boston's a good team."
The game featured 15 lead changes and 11 ties before Orlando took control in the final minutes.
"You see we won the game on a defensive play when Dwight (Howard) blocked one of their shots," Nelson added. "After that, it became a foul-shot game. And you have to give Dwight a lot of respect, because when you see a team denying him the ball the way they did, that really opened up things for everybody else."
Ricky Davis scored 22 points and Paul Pierce chipped in 16 and 13 boards for the Celtics.
"I think they just outworked us," Davis said. "They came out and beat us in the gym. It's real disappointing, everybody just has to buckle down in the fourth quarter. At the end of the fourth quarter, just take the responsibility to buckle down, get stops and make shots."
Boston, which has dropped five of its last seven, committed 19 turnovers which led to 20 Orlando points.
"The defensive (side) was phenomenal by both teams," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "It was a game played in mud, I just told the guys I thought they fought for the most part."