In an exciting, defensive oriented playoff intensity basketball game, the Magic ended a mini 2 game Celtic winning streak that began once Kevin Garnett returned to the Boston line up.
That the winning basket was scored when Rashard Lewis made a drive past KG with 1.3 seconds left, lets us know that KG is still not completely healed. A healthy Garnett would never have let that happen.
KG finished with just 6 points on 2 of 8 shooting, 7 rebounds, and two steals. Sporting a slight limp, it appears that it will take a while for KG to get back to normal.
There were some early fireworks, as Matt Barnes and Paul Pierce went head to head, literally, after Pierce put a bear hug on Dwight Howard underneath the hoop in the first quarter to stop a dunk. After a few nose-to-nose words were exchanged, Pierce pushed Barnes away with his hand to Barnes face. Both received technical fouls, but the game’s intensity amped up after that.
Shortly after, Kendrick Perkins was about get verbal with the refs about something, and Kevin Garnett gathered Perkins and the rest of his teammates together on the floor to get everyone to calm down and stay focused.
It worked for three quarters. In spite of a 31 to 11 free throw attempt deficit, due largely to Howard getting the Celtics’ bigs in foul trouble, the Beantown Ballers led the entire time. Rasheed Wallace was playing a solid game and his shot was clicking. Sheed went 3 of 5 from downtown, but had some ‘post up’ points as well.
Wallace finished second in scoring with 17 points on 7 of 14 shooting, and had 3 steals, and a blocked shot, but just 2 rebounds. He received a technical foul for saying “And one” after making a basket because he felt he was fouled on the shot.
Paul Channels Ray?
Paul Pierce found it hard going with three of his shots getting blocked. Reminiscent of Ray Allen, Pierce was off with his shot all night, going just 2 of 11 shooting before hitting a huge clutch three pointer to recapture a 92-91 lead with just 1:21 left. Paul was 5 of 5 from the line, had 4 assists. But he also had 4 turnovers.
Then Sheed made a great play as he blocked Vince Carter on a drive. Shortly after, Rasheed knocks the ball loose from Vince and Rondo dove to recover it while calling time out.
Then Rajon Rondo made it 94-91 blowing by J.J. Redick on a hard drive and banking in a lay up. Redick actually played fairly good defense for much of the night, but can’t handle Rondo.
Redick returned the favor with a deep three pointer to tie the game at 94 and 41.4 seconds left. Ray got lost covering Redick, and KG jumped out but was too late as the shot drained.
In a tightly defended sequence, Redick wanted to get the ball to Vince Carter who was had Paul Pierce draped all over him. All other options were defensed well until Lewis lost Ray Allen and came up to the circle to receive the pass. Garnett stayed with him until he finally cut a corner made the lay up to win. Wallace was a bit late coming over to help defend the paint.
With 1.3 seconds left, Wallace air balled a three pointer from the top as time expired.
Twin Towers – Magic Style
Orlando, in a surprise move, played their twin towers, Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat together in the 4th quarter. It worked far too well, as the Magic came alive in a game that, up until then, was controlled by the Celtics.
Gortat guarded Garnett mostly and Howard had Perkins and then Sheed. They both caused much havoc for the Celtics, as the Cs had only 24 points in the paint for the contest.
Kendrick Perkins got in foul trouble in the first quarter and never got out, finished with 4 points, 3 rebounds in just 15 plus minutes.
Orlando came back from a 12 point, 3rd quarter deficit (73-61) to outscore the Celtics 35-22 to win the game.
Van Gundy also replaced starting point guard Jameer Nelson with Jason Williams for the entire 4th quarter and J.J. Redick replaced an ineffective Vince Carter.
Ray Allen led the Celtics in scoring with 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting, making 4 of 8 three pointers, but took only one shot in ten minutes, without scoring, in the 4th quarter.
Boston applied a Celtic-like defense to the Magic for three quarters, holding them to 2 of 15 from the three point arc, while limiting Dwight Howard and the rest of the Magic inside. Dwight Howard was limited to 6 shot attempts, while going 2 of 8 on free throws for 8 total points through three quarters.
Were those ‘Go To’ Moves I Saw?
But it was something of an eye opening game. If I’m not mistaken, I think we were watching the birth of Dwight Howard’s first ‘go to’ moves…ever. After getting shut down by Perkins in last years’ playoffs, he vowed to improve his offense. He has been developing his moves as the season has worn on. It seems to finally be paying off.
He scored on Kendrick Perkins. He scored on Rasheed Wallace. He scored when the Magic badly needed someone to score. The Celtics’ defense had been superb for 3 quarters, holding Orlando to 61 points and an anemic .351 shooting.
Dwight Howard was their 4th quarter ‘go to’ guy and dropped in 11 of his 19 points them including a variety of moving hooks, with and without spin moves, over both Perk and later Sheed.
The other Magic player that heated up was Rashard Lewis. He scored 23 points to lead all scorers and had 16 points in the second half.
Orlando Magic survived a one assist first half (Orlando record) and came from 16 down to beat the Celtics.
Rajon Rondo had another solid game with 11 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds.
Glen Davis also had three shots blocked as Gortat and Howard combined for 7 total blocks. Glen finished with 5 boards and 6 points.
So Boston was squeezed by Orlando’s big men in the 4th and couldn’t maintain the game long lead.
They are now 29-14, while their conference rival, the Magic are 30-16.