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Celtics’ End Magic Win Streak: 90-80

Or should I say…..Celtics continue their own ‘magic’ win streak at 7?

The Orlando Magic’s time as the number one team in the NBA was brief. The Celtics ended the Magic’s 7 game winning streak, increasing their own to 7 straight in doing so.

In a game of pretty solid defense by both teams, the Celtics showed who the Jedi master is, when it comes to playing D.

Paul Pierce led the Celtics in scoring, rebounding and assists with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Paul scored 19 of his points in the second half. Glen Davis scored twelve 4th quarter points (8 straight to start the quarter) and 16 total for his season high.

Kevin Garnett added 16 points and 5 rebounds, while keying the defense with Kendrick Perkins.

Kryptonite is Green
They got a boost from Davis, who played Dwight Howard well in 21 minutes. Howard was held to 11 points and 11 rebounds. Dwight averages 20 points a game but just 12.5 points against the Celtics in two games this year.

The Celtics held the high scoring Orlando Magic to their season low of 80 points. They had only 54 after three quarters. Both teams found assists to be rare occurences. Boston had a season low of 9 while, Orlando managed just 11 on the night. Often the shot clock was winding down as they took shots.

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said that the Celtic defense kept them from running their offense all night. They didn’t double Dwight Howard and stayed at home with the other players, thus making the point guard a primary scoring option.

We certainly know that Jameer Nelson doesn’t need much prompting to take a shot. I’m sure that Doc Rivers took that into consideration, when formulating the game plan.

It worked well for much the game as Jameer Nelson was 1 for 9 shooting in the first half. After building a 16 point lead, the Magic made a 4th quarter run to cut the lead to 7 points at 75-82 with 2:59 left on a Nelson fadeaway jumper. Nelson scored 13 second half points for a total of 17, but had only 3 assists on the evening.

Hedo Turkoglu led Orlando with 22 points and Rashard Lewis added 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Long Distance Disconnection – Can You Hear Me Now?
One of the league’s top three point shooting teams, Orlando was 1 for 8 from the arc in the first quarter, 3 for 14 at the half and finished the game 7 for 22 on long distance. Boston was even worse with a measley 0 for 6 from distance.

There wasn’t any ‘magic’ to it. Both teams are among the league’s best in defense and perimeter defense. They both showed why in this game, as most shots from the arc were contested all night. The Magic finished shooting just .381 from the floor.

Dwight Howard wasn’t going to venture too far from the paint, and played with foul trouble, eventually fouling out. He left Davis open outside all night and Glen made him pay by hitting jumper after jumper to finish at 6 of 8 from the floor. If you take out Glen’s shooting numbers, the rest of the Cs shot just 43% on the night.

The Magic were the highest scoring team (104.5 pts) in the Eastern Conference last season, and are second (102.3 pts.) only to the Flying D’Antonis of New York this year. But they have increased their defensive prowess by over 5 points (99 pts. allowed are down to 93.7 points allowed)

After getting killed on the boards in the first quarter (13-8) including offensive boards (8-5) the Celtics picked it up and finished with a 40-36 edge. By far, the Celtics have the best rebounding difference in the league at 5.6. and they pride themselves in stopping offensive rebounding.

Pierce and Garnett were the other multiple scorers in the 4th period who held off the Magic comeback attempt.

The Rest of the Numbers
Rajon Rondo scored 9 points, with 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal.
Ray Allen finished with 12 points on 6 of 12 shooting with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals
Kendrick Perkins scored 7 points, adding 6 boards, and 2 blocks

Unusual Stat of the Night
Magic Rookie guard Courtney Lee was held scoreless for the first time since November 26th.
The total of just 20 assists combined must close to a season low for the NBA, I would think.

The Celtics beat one of the best home teams (16-3, now 16-4) in the NBA on their own floor. They played solid ball defensively, though their offense sputtered for much of the contest. The Magic are the best three point shooting team in the NBA, and were unable to get untracked against the Celtics. The Celtics also held them to just 68 attempts, ten below their norm.

The Magic played more like themselves in the second half, and having three days off since their last game might have hurt them. Still this was dominating performance by the Celtics and sends a good message to the Magic and everyone else who thinks they can knock off this Green Machine.

Thomas Halzack

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