Pierce keys Celtics' ninth straight win
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Paul Pierce scored 17 of his team-high 24 points in the third quarter, as the Boston Celtics rolled to their ninth straight win by beating Orlando, 107-88.
Ray Allen scored 21 points, Rajon Rondo netted 16 points and 12 assists, and Kevin Garnett posted 15 points and nine rebounds for the defending NBA champions, who moved to 17-2 this season.
Pierce is thriving as the go-to guy for the Celtics, and he got to the line 10 times, making nine of his free throws.
"Definitely, feed the pig, you know, until he stops, you know even if he misses one possession, if it's a good shot, I'm still going to him again," said Rondo of Pierce. "See if he still has it going, if not, we'll go somewhere else."
Rashard Lewis scored 30 points for the Magic, who had a four-game win streak halted. Hedo Turkoglu contributed 19 points and Dwight Howard scored 14, had 15 rebounds and four blocks in defeat as the Magic's six-game road win streak went by the boards.
The Magic played without their starting backcourt again as Jameer Nelson (hip flexor) and Mickael Pietrus (torn ligament in right thumb) continue to be sidelined.
"Nothing to be afraid of," said Orlando's Anthony Johnson. "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 were ahead 48-46 at the half, but Pierce accounted for Boston's first seven points of the third. The Celtics used an 11-1 spurt to start the period, capped by Pierce's bucket with 8 1/2 minutes remaining.
"We were taking advantage of the matchups," said Pierce. "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."
Boston's advantage stood at 77-65 going to the fourth quarter, and the Celtics pulled away. Leon Powe's jam, off an assist from Tony Allen, moved the margin to 89-73 with 8 1/2 minutes remaining, and the Magic never threatened the rest of the game.
Kendrick Perkins had eight points and 13 rebounds for Boston, which surged early by opening the game on an 11-4 flurry. Ray Allen was the early catalyst with nine first-quarter points. His three-ball expanded the advantage to 22-10, and it was 28-18 going to the second.
A jumper from Glen Davis had Boston ahead 37-22, but Lewis' bucket culminated a 10-0 Magic push. A three-pointer from Lewis in the closing minute brought the visitors within 48-46 at intermission.
The Celtics are 29-2 over the past 31 games at the TD Banknorth Garden, including the postseason...Garnett had a streak of 18 consecutive double- doubles versus the Magic broken...Orlando is 6-2 on the road this season...Orlando has lost 12 of its last 14 at Boston...The home team has won seven straight meetings...A total of nine technical fouls were called and Boston's Sam Cassell was ejected in the second quarter...Boston shot 54.1 percent to 42 percent for Orlando.
12/01 23:22:07 ET