Pierce Leads Celtics Over Magic
Boston 102, Orlando 94
BOSTON, Feb. 12 (Ticker) -- Paul Pierce again had no problem seeing 30.
Pierce scored 31 points and rookie Ryan Gomes provided his best game of the season as the Boston Celtics posted a 102-94 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Pierce reached the 30-point mark for the fourth straight game and for the sixth time in the last seven contests by making 10-of-21 shots from the floor and 11-of-14 free throws. He also helped the Celtics take the lead in the fourth quarter.
"We learned from the last game that if we move the ball, make the extra pass, what can happen," Pierce said. "We're going to the key guys we need to down the stretch and we're making the plays and that's why we ended up with the win."
After the Magic used an 11-3 run to tie the game at 84-84, the Celtics answered with a 12-4 surge to take the lead for good. Pierce had six points in the burst that Raef LaFrentz capped with two free throws with 90 seconds left.
Ironically, Pierce and Gomes were the only two Celtic starters without a three-point field goal as Boston made 10-of-14 from beyond the arc.
"In Paul Pierce, they have one of the best drivers in the game and unfortunately, we fouled him a little too much, didn't keep him in front of us enough," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "But they shot the ball extremely well from behind the three-point line, 71 percent for the game and got to the line."
A second-round pick out of Providence who has played sparingly, Gomes was effective in his second straight start, collecting season highs of 14 points and nine rebounds in 43 minutes.
"It's been good, especially that we got the win, that's been the great thing about it," Gomes said. "Going out there, starting the game, and being able to be out there for the finish (of games), it's been awesome. I've always been a guy that wanted to be in there at the end of games, rather than being in them at the beginning but both have been happening right now."
Injuries to frontline players Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins have forced Celtics coach Doc Rivers to play Gomes.
"Ryan Gomes, I thought, in the second half gave us phenomenal (minutes)," Rivers said. "Both halves were (good) but in the second half he really stepped up. He made a couple of (shots) for us, got some big rebounds but really, the starters were phenomenal."
Wally Szczerbiak scored 24 points, LaFrentz added 16 and Delonte West contributed 14 points and nine assists for Boston, which shot 50 percent (33-of-66).
Despite welcoming back forward Grant Hill, who had missed the last 13 games with a sports hernia, the Magic lost for the eighth time in nine games. The forward scored 15 points in 20 minutes.
"I felt fine the whole game," said Hill, who made 6-of-10 shots. "It's just rust and time. I hit some shots, but a couple of times I lost the ball, just little, subtle things. But it was a good day. I wish we could have won (because) that is the most important thing. But I feel good. I played 20 minutes and it would have been nice had we gotten the win."
Dwight Howard collected 24 points and 11 rebounds and Hedo Turkoglu scored 16 points for the Magic, who battled back from a double-digit deficit after the first quarter to pull within 47-45 at the half.
Orlando shot 50 percent (35-of-70) and committed 16 turnovers.