Nelson, Magic hold off Celtics
Boston, MA (Sports Network) – Jameer Nelson scored 24 points, including five
in the final minute, leading the Orlando Magic to a 92-89 victory over the
struggling Boston Celtics.
Grant Hill totaled 18 points and Dwight Howard had a huge night with 17 points
and 15 rebounds for the Magic, who won for just the second time in their last
11 trips to Boston. Trevor Ariza had 10 points for Orlando, which has won four
of its last five overall.
“We are coming off a season when we won ten games on the road so to fall
behind and come back and win those types of games gives these guys a lot of
confidence,” Magic coach Brian Hill said. “And winning two out of three on
this trip really gives us a lot of confidence and it just a great learning
experience for our team.”
Paul Pierce had 21 points for the Celtics, who fell to 1-6 on the season.
Wally Szczerbiak had 14 points, but threw away a chance for a potential tying
shot at the end. Boston is off to its worst start since the 1978-79 season,
but that team won its eighth game.
“We just didn’t show an 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.”
Boston had the lead once the entire game, at 84-83 after Kendrick Perkins hit
a layup off a feed from Rajon Rondo with 2:35 remaining. That came just over a
minute after Orlando’s Keyon Dooling was ejected for a hard foul on
Hill then drove along the baseline for a basket to give the Magic the lead for
good again at 85-84 with 1:30 left.
After Delonte West missed a jumper for Boston, Ariza hit a free throw. He
missed the second, but the Magic got the offensive rebound and Nelson scooped
a shot off the backboard to make it 88-84 with 42.6 seconds left.
Pierce’s layup cut Boston’s deficit to two points, but Nelson came up huge
again, hitting another jumper from the left wing with 12 seconds left.
Pierce then missed a three, but Howard made one free throw for a 91-86 Orlando
lead with 6.6 seconds left, seemingly giving the Magic the victory.
A three by Pierce with 2.3 seconds left and one miss by Nelson at the foul
line with 1.8 seconds remaining left the score at 92-89. Szczerbiak then
inbounded the ball from under Boston’s basket, but his pass sailed long and
over the end line, sealing Orlando’s win.
“It’s a different game the last four minutes,” Pierce said. “We know we can
score with pretty much anybody, we can keep ourselves on the floor with our
shooting ability, but until we develop a sense of urgency where it matters
most, where we’re going to dig in and get stops, we’re not going to have
success. Guys are frustrated and nobody likes to lose.”
Orlando scored the first five points and led 24-22 after one quarter. The
Magic extended to a 45-37 cushion at the half and the lead was 66-61 going
into the fourth.
“We’re 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 didn’t get off to good starts. But this year, we’ve been getting
off to great starts in every game.”
This was the start of a three-game homestand for the Celtics with contests
upcoming against Indiana and Portland…This was the finale of a three-game
swing for the Magic, who lost at Indiana Friday and beat Minnesota
Saturday. The Magic host Denver on Wednesday…Orlando has won four of the
last five meetings…West had 13 points and Ryan Gomes scored 12 for the
Celtics, who shot 38.3 percent from the field, compared to 53.5 percent for
Orlando…The Magic missed all eight of their three-point shots…Nelson hurt
his right ankle in the fourth quarter and was icing it after the game.