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The Celtics improved to 22-3 and needed no tricks in defeating the Orlando Magic 103-91 (NBA.com Box Score) Sunday night at the Garden. The C’s had four players score more than 20 points for the first time the season. With the win, Boston is now just 2 wins away from tying their win total from all of last season.
The Celtics certainly proved their worth in the Eastern Conference, beating one of the teams near the top of the conference while holding a comfortable lead for most of the second half. The C’s definitely got a measure of revenge against a team that had beaten them earlier this season. The difference this game was that it was played in Boston instead of Orlando, and the Celtics are pretty tough to beat at home (C’s are 14-1 in the TD BankNorth Garden this season).
It helps when the team can get 90 points from just four players, which equates to pretty efficient scoring. Paul Pierce finished with a game-high 24 points. Ray Allen scored 22 points, and Kevin Garnett added 21 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks. PG Rajon Rondo contributed 23 points of his own to go along with 6 assists and 4 steals. Rondo has significantly stepped up his game as of late.
As for the Magic, they have stumbled a bit heading towards the middle portion of the NBA season. The loss against the C’s drops their record to 18-11 on the season, which is still good enough for first in the Southeast Division. The problem is that they’ve lost 7 of 10 games overall, and Atlanta has creeped up to just four games back in the division.
Dwight Howard is still a beast for Orlando, as he scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. A big difference this game was the effectiveness of Celtics center Kendrick Perkins. The starting 5 stayed in for most of the game, and Perk was no exception, logging an impressive 38 minutes. While in, Perk came up pretty big defensively by grabbing 12 rebounds (11 defensively). In the first matchup between the teams earlier this season, Perk played only 21 minutes, scoring 5 points and grabbing 5 rebounds. He definitely seems to be getting stronger as the season moves on.
Next up for the C’s is a date with the Kings in Sacramento as the team begins a four-game west coast road trip. This will be important for the Celtics in proving themselves against the NBA’s elite conference.