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Boston at Orlando

Perfect no more: Strong effort by Magic puts C's in loss column

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Boston Celtics' big three -- and big 3-point attack -- come up short Sunday.

COMMENTARY
Magic conjure up statement win, but Celtics send message
by Tony Mejia
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The NBA's best-shooting team, the Celtics found themselves uncharacteristically down 20 points and still trailing after three quarters. They came back and made it close, but Paul Pierce missed an off-balance jumper with time running out and Orlando dealt Boston (8-1) its first loss, 104-102.

"We're not perfect," said Kevin Garnett, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds. "We didn't think we were going to go 82-0. But we are a team of character. We do play hard. We do play together -- just not perfect."

Garnett, Ray Allen and Pierce were each averaging 20 points. Only Pierce topped the mark Sunday, scoring 28 points and keying several quick runs that brought Boston back. Allen finished with 19, but had just eight points on 4-of-12 shooting before the fourth quarter.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game on the road -- two of the top teams in the East right now," Pierce said.

It was a chance for Orlando (9-2) to show it deserved the conference's second-best record. The Magic forced 20 Boston turnovers, shot 50.8 percent and won despite the Celtics' 41-28 rebounding edge. Perhaps more importantly, they didn't collapse when Boston made a late run.

It was the first time a team shot better than 50 percent against the Celtics and the first time Boston trailed at the half and entering the fourth quarter.

Orlando was up as much as 20, but the Celtics chipped away in the third and fourth quarters. Mounting several small runs, Boston finally claimed its first lead -- 88-87 -- halfway through the fourth on consecutive 3's by Eddie House and James Posey.

"That's what I said to them after the game -- 'It's great, guys, that you answered the run again, but some nights it's OK to not let them have a run and just win the game, so I can live to 50,"' said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.

Two nights after beating Miami by one, the Celtics lost despite shooting 53.3 percent.

The Magic went cold early in the fourth, missing five of their first seven shots and going four minutes without a field goal. Dwight Howard, swarmed reliably by two or three Celtic defenders on each touch, missed several free throws during the scoring drought.

But the Celtics missed easy buckets too, and Jameer Nelson hit two free throws to put Orlando ahead 101-97 with 1:28 left. Lewis appeared to ice it 1:13 later with two more foul shots, but Allen, who struggled from the field all night, drained a 3 with 7.7 seconds left to draw Boston to 103-102.

Lewis made a free throw, Pierce's shot bounced off the rim and Howard grabbed the rebound to seal the win.

"The biggest thing for our team was that last year when a team made a run we would kind of fold," Howard said. "This year, we're trying to stick to our game plan, and when teams make their run, just calm down, don't point fingers and stay focused."

Nelson had 18 points and six assists, Hedo Turkoglu had 16 points and six rebounds and Keith Bogans scored 10.

Rajon Rondo scored 18 for Boston on 8-of-9 shooting -- including 14 in the second quarter.

The Celtics, off to their best start since a 10-0 beginning to the 1972-73 season, weren't just winning, they were dominating. Other than the Miami game and a three-point overtime win over Toronto, Boston had won each game by at least 11. The Celtics' 15-point average margin of victory was a staggering six points better than the second-place Nuggets and Hornets.

"I thought we matched up pretty good with them, but the main thing is we played good defense against them," Lewis said.

The Celtics and Magic were the NBA's fifth and sixth-best 3-point teams, but both struggled from long-range. Orlando was 7-of-25, while Boston shot 4-of-16.

Notes

  • Howard and Garnett were called for a double technical in the second quarter after the Magic center was fouled jumping for an alley-oop. Celtics F Brian Scalabrine pulled his jersey and Howard pushed him in frustration.
  • Posey and Garnett fouled out in the fourth quarter.
  • Rondo was helped off the court in the second quarter after a hard foul by Keyon Dooling on a fast-break layup.
  • Orlando got four defensive three-second penalties, while Boston had none.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu reacts after he sinks a clutch 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter.  (AP)
Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu reacts after he sinks a clutch 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter. (AP)

Scoreboard
Boston (8-1) 17243526102
Orlando (9-2) «28302521104
BOS:P. Pierce 28 Pts
BOS:K. Garnett 11 Reb
BOS:P. Pierce 6 Ast
ORL:D. Howard 24 Pts
ORL:H. Turkoglu 6 Reb
ORL:J. Nelson 6 Ast
Players of the Game
OrlandoBoston

D. Howard

P. Pierce
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
24622856
Boston
P. Pierce, SG4310-178-1156228
R. Allen, SG397-173-451119
K. Garnett, PF377-130-0111614
R. Rondo, PG308-92-453418
K. Perkins, C211-33-45135
E. House, SG232-70-15015
J. Posey, SF211-20-02263
T. Allen, SG123-42-20258
S. Pollard, C61-10-02022
B. Scalabrine, PF60-10-00130
G. Davis, PF30-10-01000
L. Powe, PFDid Not Play
G. Pruitt, PGDid Not Play
B. Wallace, PFDid Not Play
Totals 40-7518-26411733102
 53.3%69.2% 
Orlando
D. Howard, C427-910-2062424
K. Bogans, SG414-100-021310
R. Lewis, SF406-118-1023422
H. Turkoglu, SF397-130-061316
J. Nelson, PG396-156-656218
T. Ariza, SF161-41-23123
C. Arroyo, PG91-22-23015
K. Dooling, PG70-04-40014
J. Augustine, PF41-10-01012
A. Foyle, C20-00-00000
T. Battie, PFDid Not Play
B. Outlaw, PFDid Not Play
P. Garrity, SFDid Not Play
M. Gortat, PFDid Not Play
J. Redick, SGDid Not Play
Totals 33-6531-44281421104
 50.8%70.5% 
Other Games
GS 106 Final
Tor 100
Det 95 Final
Sac 105
Chi 78 Final
LAL 106