Friday , Mar , 17 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Celtics not down and out yet

(Sports Network) – The Boston Celtics blew a 25-point lead in their last
outing, but still have a shot at the 2005-06 playoffs.

Paul Pierce has been the MVP of this team all season and will be every year
until his departure from Beantown.

Pierce, a solid MVP candidate, has scored 30-plus points in 13 of his last 14
games and is the only player in the NBA to lead his team in points (27.3),
rebounds (6.7), assists (4.8) and steals per game (1.4).

The Celtics will need Pierce to continue his season-long surge as they resume
a four-game road trip Friday night when they visit the Orlando Magic at TD
Waterhouse Centre.

Boston will attempt to avoid being swept in Orlando for the first time since
the 2000-01 season. The Magic are 2-1 this season versus the Celts after
posting wins on November 28 and February 4. Boston countered with a home
victory on February 12.

The Celtics have won five of the last seven meetings, but have dropped four
of six in Orlando.

Boston is 0-2 on the trip and suffered a 107-104 loss to the Miami Heat on
Thursday night. They opened the trip with a loss at Memphis.

Against the Heat, Pierce scored 34 points and Wally Szczerbiak netted 30
points for Boston, losers of three of its last four games.

Boston, which will close out the swing on Sunday at Indiana, is 1-3 in its
last four road games and only 8-23 away from Beantown this season.

Meanwhile, Celtics rookie forward Ryan Gomes has started the last 16 games,
averaging 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds over that span.

Over his last 11 games, Gomes is averaging 14.8 points with 9.2 rebounds per