GameNight Specifics
NBA Coverage: Game Info
Date: Monday, Jan. 17
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: TD Garden (Boston, MA)
Radio: AM 580 WDBO, AM 1270 WRLZ
Television: TNT



Jameer Nelson

Jason Richardson

Dwight Howard

Brandon Bass

Hedo Turkoglu

Gilbert Arenas

J.J. Redick
Rajon Rondo

Ray Allen

Shaquille O'Neal

Kevin Garnett

Paul Pierce

Marquis Daniels

Glen Davis


BOSTON (AP) -- Kevin Garnett didn't look injured when he nimbly sidestepped a pick, reached out to intercept a pass and help the Celtics steal a victory from Orlando.

The Celtics forward returned after missing nine games with a leg injury and scored 19 points, adding eight rebounds and a key steal with 16 seconds left on Monday night to help Boston beat the Magic 109-106.

"These last two weeks have been dark days for me. Being hurt is not one of my favorite things," said Garnett, who injured his right calf against Detroit on Dec. 29. "I've been doing a lot of things to get back here and get strong, and I was glad I was able to come out here and help my team out."

Garnett went around Jameer Nelson and intercepted a pass intended for Jason Richardson, then threw the ball ahead to Ray Allen. Allen was fouled while trying to dribble out the clock; he made both free throws - giving him 26 points for the game and 13 in the fourth quarter alone.

"We look like a totally different team out there," Celtics forward Paul Pierce said. "You can't replace what Kevin gives to a ballclub. ... He raises everyone's play when he's on the court."

Rajon Rondo had 10 points and 13 assists for Boston, which went 6-3 with Garnett out. The Celtics have won three straight to follow a 5-5 stretch that started on Christmas Day, when they lost to 86-78 to the Magic to snap a 14-game winning streak in the team's only other meeting this season.

Dwight Howard scored 33 points with 13 rebounds and Ryan Anderson scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Magic. But Boston made 60 percent of its shots - a season-high for an Orlando opponent.

"We didn't get any stops. There was never a point in the game where we stopped them," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It's got to change. We've got to take a look at it and get a lot better."

There were 10 lead changes in the third quarter and six more in the fourth as the Magic scored eight straight points to turn a six-point deficit into a 95-93 lead. Allen hit a pair of 3-pointers to answer 3s by Richardson and Turkoglu, but a third 3-pointer by Allen was negated when Garnett was called for a moving pick.

That left it 102-102 with 65 seconds left.

It was tied again with 39 seconds left when Pierce, who had not scored in the fourth quarter, stepped in to draw a foul on Richardson before hitting a jumper; he converted the three-point play to give Boston a 107-104 lead. On the Magic's next possession, Nelson tried to push the ball to Richardson but Garnett, who was stepping around a screen, got his fingertips on the ball and then gathered it in.

"It just came down to the last second, and they made a good play and we turned the ball over," Turkoglu said. "We didn't play our game the way we wanted to from the start."

Orlando ended a two-game losing streak with a victory over Minnesota on Saturday, improving to 10-4 since the trade that brought Turkoglu, Richardson and Gilbert Arenas to the Magic.

The teams have met in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, with Orlando knocking Boston out in 2009 and the Celtics eliminating the Magic last year.

NOTES: Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon was sitting courtside, drinking a beer. ... Celtics C Kendrick Perkins, who tore the ligaments in his right knee during the NBA finals, returned to practice on Sunday. Backup Jermaine O'Neal was in New York to talk to doctors about his left knee injury. A plan will be determined after he meets with the Celtics training staff. ... Several Celtics, including Garnett, attended Sunday's Patriots playoff loss to the New York Jets. ... Howard had 18 points at the half, scoring nine of them on seven free throws in the second quarter alone. ... Anderson hit four 3-pointers in a 3:08 stretch in the first half. ... Van Gundy was still steaming over what he has called a "hefty" fine from 2009 for complaining about the proliferation of Christmas Day games. He was also fined $35,000 this Jan. 1 for complaining about the officiating in Orlando's game against the Knicks. "I actually don't mind meeting with you guys, but $35,000 is a steep price," he said. "I don't care what you make. It's a lot of money." ... Howard's 18 free throw attempts was a season high.


BOSTON – In a classic game with 26 lead changes and 18 ties, it was only fitting that this Orlando-Boston slugfest came down to the final minute. And appropriately enough, the team that has been intact for years (Boston) was better with its execution than the one that was dramatically reconfigured (Orlando) a month ago.

Regardless of the reasons for Orlando’s 109-106 loss to Boston, the frustrating final minute from Monday’s epic is sure to stay with the Magic until they get another shot at the rival Celtics again in three weeks.

``Executing down the stretch is what separates good teams and great teams and it was the only difference in this game,’’ muttered Dwight Howard, who did plenty of executing with 33 points and 13 rebounds. ``Twenty-one seconds to go and we don’t get a shot off. In the fourth quarter you’ve got to be able to get good shots and not turn the ball over. You can’t that way, turning it over.’’

For the Magic (26-15), the loss was the fitting end to a tantalizing, but also somewhat troubling stretch of games. A week ago Orlando was riding a nine-game lo0sing streak, but it dropped three of four games on the trip because it was unable to get stops at big times. New Orleans won in overtime, Oklahoma City shredded the Magic for 125 points and the Celtics often scored at will and shot 60 percent from the field.

``We couldn’t get enough stops down the stretch and that was probably the theme of this trip,’’ Magic guard J.J. Redick said. ``All three games that we lost were close games and it came down to us not being able to get stops at crucial times. We have to play better against the (better) teams and bring our defensive energy.’’

With the game tied at 104, Boston’s Paul Pierce got Orlando’s Jason Richardson in the air, absorbed the contact and drilled a 17-footer from the elbow. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy diagrammed the play that the Celtics would run in the huddle and the Magic defended it well other than Richardson’s foul.

Said Richardson, who had 14 points and two 3-pointers: ``I knew (Pierce) was going to go to the pump fake and he got me in the air. I’m a veteran and I should know better than that. But he threw the bait out there and I bit on it.’’

The Magic followed with missed shots by Hedo Turkoglu (11 points, seven assists) and Ryan Anderson (16 points and four 3-pointers), but their chances ended when Boston defensive ace Kevin Garnett reached over Jameer Nelson and tipped away a pass with 13 seconds left to seal the game. Nelson, who had tied the game up with a clutch jumper with 51 seconds to play, was dejected about the turnover.

Said Nelson: ``I was trying to get it to the open guys, but it was really crowded over there. I was just trying to make the right play. If it was anybody else (other than Garnett), they wouldn’t have gotten that steal.’’

The Magic and Celtics were meeting for the first time since Christmas Day when Orlando won 86-78 in bizarre fashion. The Magic scored the first 13 points of that game, struggled afterward and closed with a 15-1 spurt for the victory. The two rivals, who have met in the Eastern Conference Finals each of the past two seasons, meet again on Feb. 4 in Boston in a prelude to the NFL’s Super Bowl.

The Magic are back at Amway Arena on Wednesday for a rematch against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers beat the Magic on Dec. 18, the day Orlando pulled off the two blockbuster trades for Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark. With 41 games played and 41 games to go, the season now shifts to preparation for the playoffs.

``We don’t look at it like we have this new team because this is our team now and we can’t be making mistakes,’’ Van Gundy said. ``We have 41 games left to get ready to play at this level. And two things are going to have to change – our defense and bringing more energy to the start of games.’’

Here’s a look back at what went right, what went wrong and some final observations from a Monday night game that very much had the feel of a playoff game in late May: