Game Notes: Celtics at Magic
Paul Pierce and Co. rally for a huge comeback win.
by Nick Wilke / @njwilke
On this night it seemed like the Celtics would be on the other end of the blowout. Boston was losing by 27 points with three minutes left in the first half, and down 18 with two minutes left in the third quarter. Many say the Celtics are too old to be true contenders, but they kept fighting until the very end to get the win, and showed that they can still play with the best teams.
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers wasn’t surprised to see his team pull out the win even without All-Stars Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, probably because he knows that his team has a lot more heart than they showed in the first half.
“That was a character builder for our team,” Rivers said. “That’s all we talked about at halftime. We didn’t make any big changes. We just talked about it being a character builder for the team. Just get back in it and hang in there long enough to give yourself a chance to win.”
After scoring just 37 points in the first half, Boston scored 54 points and shot 21-for-39 (53.8 percent) from the field in the second half. They also stepped it up on the defensive end as well, limiting the Magic to 25 points in the half on 23 percent shooting.
Paul Pierce scored a game-high 24 points and tied his season-high with 10 assists. The younger Celtics, E’Twaun Moore and Avery Bradley, saw some increased minutes due to Rondo and Allen being out, and both made strong contributions.
“It was a good thing because a lot of the guys got to show their talent, especially the young guys,” Celtics forward Chris Wilcox said. “They came out and played well for us, and at the end of the day, it showed our character. We were down 27 points and came back to grind it out. In the fourth quarter, we all played together and hit big shots. We boxed out and rebounded and we got a good win tonight.”
Bradley, a second-year player out of Texas, only finished with 6 points, but his aggressive defense forced a few turnovers. Moore, a rookie out of Purdue, scored 13 of his career-high 16 points in the second half.
Magic forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis knew that his former team wasn’t going to just tap out that easily.
“Boston smelled blood and they smelled pressure and we didn’t do a good job of handling it,” Davis said. “I’ve watched a lot of games from the sideline and been a part of a lot of comebacks with those guys and I knew that they were gonna make a push and they did and they won the game.”
Davis had a disappointing night against his former team, finishing with 7 points and 6 rebounds on just 3-of-11 from the field.
It was just too easy for the Celtics on Monday, when they killed the Magic 87-56, but tonight was a totally different story. This win only gave the Celtics more confidence, showing the rest of the League that they are no easy out.
“What I love about this team is that everybody responded,” Rivers said. “This was a team win. This is as good of a team win that you can have. When you come back and win a game like that it’s a great feeling for the team. It was a special game for us.”
The Celtics have won four out of their last five games and now stand at 8-9, good for 7th in the Eastern Conference. But the team needs to get healthy and stay healthy if they want to make a deep run in the Playoffs this season. The Celtics will return home this weekend to face Indiana on Friday and Cleveland on Sunday.