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Nelson, Howard lead Magic past Celtics

Nov 14, 2006 - 3:35 AM BOSTON (Ticker) -- Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard could be reminding Orlando Magic fans of Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal.

Nelson scored a season-high 24 points and Howard had 17 and 15 rebounds as the Magic posted a 92-89 victory over the Boston Celtics.

Led by Hardaway and O'Neal, Orlando advanced to two straight Eastern Conference finals, including a trip to the NBA finals in 1995.

Nelson brought back memories of fellow point guard Hardaway on Monday, shooting 11-of-17 from the field and dishing out seven assists for Orlando, which has won two straight on the road and four of its last five games overall.

"We are more mature," Nelson said. "We've got veteran leadership. We have to stay focused. Last year we kind of panicked on the road, and for certain reasons we did not get off to good starts. But this year, we've been getting off to great starts in every game."

Howard did his best O'Neal impersonation, recording his fifth double-double of the season and adding four assists and three blocks for the Magic, who shot 54 percent (38-of-71) from the field.

It was just Orlando's second win in its last 11 appearances in Boston. The Magic are 5-1 when they shoot 50 percent or better.

"Last year we won only 10 games on the road," Grant Hill said. "We have to do a better job of that. I can't remember the last time we went 2-1 on a road trip. It's a good win."

Paul Pierce had 21 points but was just 6-of-21 from the floor and committed five turnovers for the Celtics, who shot 38 percent (31-of-82).

"We just didn't show the ability to get stops down the stretch of the game," Pierce said. "That's going to be the story of our season if we continue (not) to have the sense of urgency down the stretch."

"We knew in the second half, Paul (Pierce) was going to try to get going as much as possible," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "I thought our guys did a pretty good job on him."

Boston has lost four of its last five against Orlando.

"This is one of those games that when you look at the first 10 games, you look and say 'This is a game we should win,'" Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "So what are you going to do? We're going to keep working and keep doing what we're doing and do it better."

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