ORLANDO, Fla. -- Even Stan Van Gundy wasn't sure what Hedo Turkoglu was doing.
"I think he wanted to set it up so he could hit a miracle and make his final bid for the All-Star game," the Magic coach joked. "If we win by seven, no drama. It doesn't make as good of a case."
Turkoglu is having the best season of his career, but he's a long-shot for the Feb. 17 game in New Orleans. He tried a few tough shots down the stretch, as Orlando let go of a double-digit lead, but made the one that counted for a 96-93 win.
"I didn't really want to settle on a jumper," Turkoglu said. "I just tried to go to the hole and take a foul, but they had good defense and forced me to take a tough shot. I'm just glad it was right there today."
Orlando recorded its second home win this season over Boston, which played for the first time without Garnett, who has an abdominal strain.
"Obviously Kevin is the heart and soul of what we do," Celtics guard Ray Allen said. "So it was tough not seeing him out there."
Orlando blew a 16-point, second-half lead with a lousy fourth quarter. The Celtics trailed 75-65 to open the period, then held Orlando scoreless nearly four minutes, and without a field goal for more than five.
But the Celtics slipped into their own fourth-quarter drought over 2:47 and the Magic pulled ahead by eight on two buckets from Lewis, one a 3-pointer, and an authoritative dunk from Howard.
Allen hit a 3 for Boston to tie it at 93 with 14 seconds left, and Orlando took its time on the last possession. Carlos Arroyo dribbled up the court and held the ball, the fans on their feet screaming. Turkoglu curled around and pulled up an ugly shot, but it went in.
"It was a good shot," Celtics forward Paul Pierce said. "I thought I played pretty good defense -- cut off his initial drive, he turned around and shot a 3-pointer from two or three feet off the line and sunk the shot."
Pierce led Boston with 24 points and nine rebounds, Allen scored 17 points and Rajon Rondo had 15 points and five assists.
January has been by far Boston's worst stretch - five of its eight losses have come this month. But the Celtics, at 34-8, are still by far the league's best. The Magic lead the Southeast Division at 28-18, but not by much.
"Because they didn't have Kevin Garnett and we hit a miracle shot at the end, it was enough to win," Van Gundy said.
The Celtics went the entire first half, and most of the third quarter, without a 3-pointer, but Allen and James Posey found them late. Posey nailed one to start the quarter, then Allen hit two within a minute and a half, plus the game-tying shot.
The Magic trailed 46-43 at halftime, but opened a double-digit lead with a 22-4 run keyed by forward Brian Cook, who didn't play in the first half. Acquired with Maurice Evans in a November trade that sent Trevor Ariza to the Los Angeles Lakers, Cook immediately started scoring -- nailing three 3-pointers and a putback for 11 in the run.
Howard added two three throws, a feat of some magnitude for the 59.6 percent foul shooter, to raucous chants of "M-V-P!" The fourth-year standout is a long-shot candidate, and his Magic were looking good at the time: up 69-53, in the third quarter.
But that was with Garnett resting a strained abdominal muscle and Allen on the bench with four fouls.
The Celtics outrebounded Orlando through the first half even without Garnett, though the Magic ended up with a 43-38 edge on the boards. And Orlando committed 20 turnovers for 31 Boston points, compared with 12 Celtics turnovers that led to 14 points for the Magic.
Posey had 16 points and six rebounds off the bench for Boston, and Leon Powe added nine points and nine rebounds.
"We don't want to be known as a last-shot team, we want to be a great team," Howard said. "I think we're building up to being a great team."
- Boston has fared far worse against the Southeast Division than the rest of the league. The Celtics are 6-5, having also lost twice to Washington and once to Charlotte.
- Boston closes a two-game Florida swing at Miami on Tuesday.
- Rondo missed a few minutes in the third quarter as trainers taped his sprained ankle. The guard returned favoring it, but finished the game.