Nelson, Magic Win Fourth Straight at Home
Orlando 84, Boston 77
ORLANDO, Fla., March 17 (Ticker) -- After an unfortunate setback, the Boston Celtics still could not find any luck against the Orlando Magic on St. Patrick's Day.
Jameer Nelson scored 19 points and Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu each added 18 as the Magic posted a 84-77 victory over the Celtics, who have lost four of their last five games and are fading fast from the playoff race.
"We got great shots and didn't make them, but that might have been because of last night (in Miami)," said Boston coach Doc Rivers, whose team fell to 1-3 vs. Orlando this season. "Last night was up and down, and tonight was slow. I liked tonight's tempo, because we didn't have the legs to do it again."
Boston (27-39) has lost 21 of its last 27 visits to Orlando and fell six games in the loss column behind Philadelphia for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
With 3:50 to go, Keyon Dooling converted his second straight layup to give Orlando a 76-71 lead. Turkoglu followed with two free throws push lead to 78-71 19 seconds later.
After a layup by Paul Pierce, Turkoglu made a layup for an 80-72 advantage with 1:47 remaining. Pierce converted an acrobatic layup and free throw, but Dooling had a follow jam on Nelson's missed layup to rebuild the lead to seven points with 1:14 to go.
Rivers felt Howard was the difference, especially in the fourth period. Howard grabbed 13 rebounds while blocking a season-high six shots.
"Howard's just a beast," Rivers said. "I thought his rebounding is what killed us as opposed to his blocks. He got a ton of rebounds at the end when were just trying to attack the basket. That and our turnovers (20) killed us tonight."
Reserve Darko Milicic contributed four blocks for Orlando, which has won four of five overall and four in a row at home. Milicic has 14 blocks over the past three games.
"I think playing with Darko's getting there," Howard said. "You know he hasn't the opportunity to play a lot, so he's come in here with the mind-set of getting better, and I think he's doing that every game. In the future, he and I will be a great duo."
"Certainly when we made the trade, we had in mind that these two guys would complement each other at the offensive end and that they would give us two very long inside guys that could be an inside presence defensively," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "But this isn't Ben (Wallace) and Rasheed (Wallace) yet. Certainly I think the two of them be a force together as we move forward."
Pierce scored 19 points but made just 5-of-18 shots and Wally Szczerbiak scored 16 points for the Celtics, who shot 33 percent (26-of-80).
"They (Howard and Milicic) are one of the reasons we shot (33) percent," Szczerbiak said. "I think we were seeing shadows every time we came into the paint. Normally, we are a better shooting team than this. It was a combination of their defense and our legs not being there."