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The Boston Celtics got double-doubles from Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, plus double-digit scoring from three more, coming all the way from 27 down to beat the Orlando Magic 91-83 Thursday night at the Amway Center. It was Celtics’ biggest comeback in 16 seasons.
The Celtics came out of halftime down 58-37, having done virtually nothing right in the first half following an 8-2 run – keyed by two three-pointers from Mickael Pietrus – to start the game. They couldn’t penetrate, they couldn’t hit jumpers, and they definitely couldn’t get stops.
But Pierce hit his first three shots in the third quarter, and starting the Celtics’ slow crawl back. The Magic rebuilt their lead to 64-45 on a three-pointer from Hedo Turkoglu, but much stronger interior defense from the Celtics forced the Magic entirely to the perimeter, and their accuracy plummeted because of it.
The Celtics closed out the third with a 10-3 run highlighted by E’Twaun Moore‘s second of a game-high four three-pointers, and the Celtics started the fourth down just 11.
The defense continued in the fourth, with the Celtics forcing a shot-clock violation on the Magic’s first possession, and Moore hit another trey to cut the deficit to 75-67. After Dwight Howard got himself to the free throw line and knocked down one of two shots, Pierce scored two more buckets in rapid succession, hitting a three and then blowing by former Celtic Glen Davis for a 9-foot jumper that made it just 76-72 Magic. Following some more tough interior defense from Garnett and the Celtics, Howard got called for goal-tending on yet another shot from Pierce.
Pierce then pulled down two defensive rebounds, and on the other end Marquis Daniels drew Howard into a double-team that left Garnett wide open for a 20-footer. Garnett drained it, tying the game 76-76 and stunning the Magic. After some more anemic Magic shooting – they didn’t score a field goal until over halfway through the fourth quarter – Pierce made a brilliant cross-court pass to Moore in the corner, who buried the three for the 79-76 lead.
Boston’s defense – which finished the game with six steals, 11 blocks and 38.0 percent opposing shooting – so rattled the Magic that they began screaming at the refs, leading to two technical fouls in the fourth. But even that couldn’t stop the Celtics, as Pierce and Moore sank four of six free throws in the closing minutes of the game to lock down the victory.
Pierce finished the game with 24 points, 10 assists and six rebounds. Garnett scored 12 and grabbed 10 boards while blocking four and stealing three. Moore finished with 16 points, including 4-for-4 three-point shooting. Pietrus scored 12, while Brandon Bass kicked in 10.