for this game

Celtics down Magic, push streak to nine

Dec 2, 2008 - 4:49 AM By Mike Petraglia PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) -- This time, Kevin Garnett didn't have to beat the Orlando Magic by himself.

Paul Pierce had 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter while Ray Allen poured in 21 points, including three 3-pointers, to lead the Boston Celtics over the Magic, 107-88, on Monday night.

Garnett was again a force for the Celtics, scoring 15 while hauling in nine rebounds, narrowly missing his 19th consecutive double-double against the Magic. Red-hot Boston won its ninth straight to improve to 17-2 and 10-1 at home.

Pierce got red-hot in the third quarter, helping the Celtics outscore Orlando, 29-19, and take a 77-65 lead into the fourth, where they cruised to the win.

"We were taking advantage of the matchups," Pierce said. "We saw something that was working and we continued to go with it. My teammates did a good job of setting me up. We ran set plays to get me the ball in a position where I could score and I took advantage of it."

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was key in the third quarter, feeding Pierce several times down the court on his way to a 16-point, 12-assist effort.

"I mean, it's obvious, you just try to get them the ball," Rondo said. "I just try to think of sets to get them in situations to get them the ball. We have quite a few plays to get Ray, Paul, or KG the ball at any position on the court."

Rashard Lewis had a game-high 30 while Dwight Howard added 14 to lead short-handed Orlando, which fell to 13-5 on the young season but still sits atop of the Southeast Division.

"I thought our guys played hard, we just got totally outplayed," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Their guards were outstanding, the three of them got 48 points, and I thought also put very good pressure on our guards. I thought the backcourt was a big difference.

"I thought Rashard was outstanding. I thought that when we played big, we had some success so I liked that. Our guys did not turn the ball over a lot, which I thought was good. But Boston's defense is great and I thought we struggled to consistently get good shots."

The Magic were without starting point guard Jameer Nelson, out with a strained right hip flexor, and shooting guard Mickael Pietrus, who is out with a torn ligament in his right thumb.

"Nothing to be afraid of," said veteran Anthony Johnson, one of the guards filling in for the injured starting backcourt. "We're going to be fine. Once our starting five is matching up with their starting five and our bench is matching up with their bench, I'll feel very good about it. Yeah they smacked us, and you've got to acknowledge that. I'm acknowledging that they smacked us tonight, they outplayed us. But with two healthy squads I feel very good."

The Celtics again came out strong on their home court, outscoring Orlando, 28-18, in the first quarter. Boston made 12 of its 20 first-quarter attempts from the floor while the Magic came out ice cold, shooting just 6-for-23 in the first quarter.

The Celtics did a good job containing Orlando's All-Star center early, as Howard did not score his first field goal until the 7:25 mark of the second quarter. Meanwhile, the Celtics were building their lead to 37-22.

A 10-0 run highlighted Orlando's second quarter surge in which they outscored Boston, 24-11, to close to within 48-46 at the half.

The Magic stayed close thanks to a big discrepancy at the foul line. Orlando was 11-of-17 at the stripe while Boston made all five of its free throw attempts.

But the visitors were ultimately done in by their poor shooting from long range, making just five of their 26 attempts from beyond the arc.

"Once we went to post-ups and kicked it out, we couldn't knock down an open jumper to save our lives. You're not going to beat this team not making jumpers, and we didn't do that," Johnson said.

The game was tightly called throughout, featuring eight technical fouls. Two of those were called on Celtics veteran Sam Cassell in the second quarter as he was ejected from the game for arguing a call on Kendrick Perkins.

"Lots of technicals tonight, don't you think?" Celtics coach Doc Rivers asked rhetorically afterward. "I thought so, too."