BOSTON, Jan. 26 (Ticker) -- Paul Pierce
capped an eventful weekend in
One day after having his uniform number retired by the
University of Kansas, Pierce recorded his first career
triple-double, helping the Boston Celtics get past the
shorthanded Orlando Magic, 91-83.
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Pierce has stepped up his game in the absence of Antoine Walker
who missed his third straight contest with a sprained knee.
On Friday, Pierce nearly outscored the Denver Nuggets by
himself, recording 45 points in the Celtics' 77-58 victory. The
Magic "held" him to 27, but he dominated in other areas,
grabbing 13 rebounds and handing out a career-high 13 assists.
"I just take it upon myself to raise the level of my game,"
Pierce said. "Antoine's out, so that's what I got to do. That's
what being the leader of this team is all about."
"He realized that they were loading up on him and he passed the
ball," Boston coach Jim O'Brien added. "That's a sign of a guy
who is maturing as a basketball player."
But the Celtics could not put away the pesky Magic, who stayed
in the game despite being without Tracy McGrady
. The NBA's
leading scorer did not make the trip to Boston after learning
that his fiancee had gone into labor a week earlier than
helped Boston hold on by hitting three crucial
three-pointers in a span of less than two minutes early in the
Prior to his spurt, McCarty had made just one of his previous 12
shots and scored only three points against Denver. Against the
Magic, he was 4-of-4 from the field in the fourth quarter, when
he scored all 11 of his points.
"I was struggling, but I came out and perservered," McCarty
said. "I'm just happy they went down for me. I stayed with my
shot and my teammates still had confidence in me."
Pierce reached his triple-double with an assist on McCarty's
first three-pointer that gave the Celtics a 64-58 lead with 9:09 to
play. After Darrell Armstrong
's three-pointer made it 64-61, McCarty
drilled consecutive shots from beyond the arc to make it 70-61
with 7:20 to go.
Orlando pulled within 85-81 with 1:12 remaining on a 3-pointer
by Jeryl Sasser
, who kept the Magic in it with a career-high 26
points and 10 rebounds. The Celtics closed it out by hitting six
free throws in the final minute, including four by Pierce.
"Paul Pierce had a triple-double but I don't think he ever had
to work this hard for his points," Orlando coach Doc Rivers
said. "Our key was to limit his shots."
"It was more of an all-around game, passing, rebounding,
scoring," Pierce added. "I'll take games like this any day."
Statistically, Orlando had no business being in the game as the
Celtics shot 53 percent from the field (35-of-66) while holding
the Magic to 37 percent (30-of-82).
"It's amazing. They shot 53 percent but we played great
defense," Rivers said. "We played the game at our pace."
Even more remarkable for the Magic was that Mike Miller
(2-of-18) and Pat Garrity
(2-of-12) were a combined 4-of-30 from
Both teams were sluggish throughout most of the first half as
the contest was tied, 29-29, after Sasser's jumper with 3:44
left in the second period.
's layup snapped the tie and ignited an 11-0 spurt
that gave the Celtics the lead for good. Another layup by Long
made it 40-29 with 1:41 left in the half before Boston settled
for a 42-32 edge at the intermission.
The Celtics took their biggest lead, 50-36, on Tony Battie
jumper with 10:16 left in the third quarter. Boston went cold
again and Orlando closed the period with a 20-9 spurt.
Rookie Ryan Humphrey
opened the fourth quarter with a pair of
free throws that made it 59-58 with 10:41 to play. Boston
responded with a 11-3 spurt to regain control.