Nice rebound for the Celtics
They crush Magic to even the series
The Celtics found a cure for the post-Chicago blues they had been experiencing since eliminating the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.
A healthy dose of Rajon Rondo's aggression and speed, plus the sharpshooting of Eddie House (31 points) and Ray Allen (22), took the Celtics to a 112-94 win last night over the Orlando Magic at TD Banknorth Garden, tying their best-of-seven Eastern Conference second-round series at 1-1.
In Game 1, just 48 hours after beating the Bulls, the Celtics started slowly and trailed by as many as 28 points in absorbing a 95-90 defeat. But in Game 2, the Celtics resumed the momentum they had gathered in the second half of the series opener, leading from the opening minute and stretching their advantage to as many as 26 points.
Remarkably, the Celtics accomplished this victory without a significant contribution from captain Paul Pierce, who totaled 3 points and did not score in the final 47:05 of play.
"I thought our defensive intensity in the first quarter set the tone for our offense," coach Doc Rivers said. "We were up and we were into them and that's what we have to do. That's the only way we can play these guys. If we don't, they're just too good, they shoot too well, they move the ball too well, and we have to get up in their faces as much as we can."
Pierce helped set the tone with a 3-pointer 55 seconds after tipoff. The Celtics quickly upped the advantage to double digits with a Stephon Marbury layup for a 16-6 lead with 6:18 remaining in the quarter. But those would be Pierce's only points in 16 minutes of playing time, with the Celtics going to three-guard sets, and the fans replacing "M-V-P" with chants of "Ed-die" and "Ron-do."
"What happened? The game sped up so much we couldn't keep up," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "With Ray Allen and Eddie House running around. [House] was unbelievable. I've seen some great shooting shows in life, but he was incredible. Even at the other end, they were a step ahead of us. When they were on defense it was an absolutely dominant performance. We've got to go home and make some changes and play the game better."
The Celtics led by as many as 19 points in the first half. Rafer Alston cut the Magic deficit to 61-47. But the Celtics pulled away as House scored 6 successive points in a 66-second span for a 75-52 advantage with 3:23 remaining in the quarter.
Rondo (15 points, 11 rebounds, 18 assists) achieved his third triple-double of the playoffs with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter, slicing into the lane to dunk in between a flat-footed Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis.
House upped the lead to 83-60 with 50 seconds remaining in the quarter, then took a slap to the back of the head from Alston, a double technical foul issued by official Bennett Salvatore, with Van Gundy advancing near the center circle to ensure Alston departed. Salvatore later ejected Orlando's J.J. Redick, who argued after committing his sixth personal foul.
Brian Scalabrine played 35 minutes, his longest stint since sustaining a concussion in February. Van Gundy credited House and Scalabrine with "changing the game." Celtics center Kendrick Perkins (16 points, 9 rebounds) outdueled Howard (12 points, 12 rebounds).
"I thought the whole team played with great energy," Rivers said. "The reason [House] was open was because the bigs were moving and setting great picks. They got him open - Perk, Baby [Glen Davis], Scal. Our movement - 34 assists, 10 turnovers tells you the ball was moving and we attacking the paint. We were doing very much what they were doing in Game 1 - dribble penetration created open jump shots for us and that's the way we have to play every night."