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Celtics notebook

Moore does plenty

Rookie keys big rally at both ends of floor

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / January 27, 2012
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ORLANDO - Celtics coaches and teammates insisted E’Twaun Moore could shoot, although his numbers hardly reflected that. He began his rookie season missing 28 of 37 shots, including a couple of critical attempts in losses to Oklahoma City and Phoenix.

And there was little expected when he entered last night’s riveting 91-83 victory over the Magic with 2:08 left in the third period and the Celtics trailing, 72-56. Just 53 seconds into his stint, he drained a 3-pointer. He began the fourth with another, slicing the deficit to 8.

Capping a stellar performance, Moore added the go-ahead 3-pointer with 7:57 left, then a running, spinning layup with 4:51 left that began a 5-0 run that would seal a 27-point Celtics’ rally. Moore (16 points in 18 minutes) has drawn raves from coach Doc Rivers for his poise and maturity.

“E’Twaun was huge, the other night we won because of Avery [Bradley’s] defense, tonight we won because of E’Twaun’s defense and E’Twaun’s offense,’’ Rivers said. “For a rookie in this atmosphere, I thought that was sensational. In games he couldn’t make a shot, but after Ray [Allen], in practice he’s our best shooter.’’

Moore said he hasn’t been wallowing in his shortcomings because of his teammates’ encouragement.

“They always said, ‘keep shooting, we know you can shoot,’ ’’ Moore said. “It’s definitely keeping me ready to play hard. Everyone talking to me, the communication just makes me feel like I can help this team. When the first [shot] went down, it just helped my confidence and when the second one went down, I was like ‘OK this is more like it.’ ’’

Rondo remains out

Although it appeared Rajon Rondo was close to returning to the lineup a few days ago after spraining his right wrist Jan. 18, the Celtics point guard said yesterday he is not able to shoot or dribble with consistency and could miss several more days.

Rondo attempted to practice Wednesday but it was a brief effort. Rondo wouldn’t say when he would return but said the wrist is at about “45 percent, but I played with my elbow at 37 percent last year’’ during the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“He can’t play,’’ Rivers said. “If he could play, he’d play. His hand just won’t let him. It’s not broken or anything. It’s just extremely sore. He tried to shoot and do things [Wednesday] and you could just see it’s no way. There’s no way he could have been effective.’’

Meanwhile, Keyon Dooling’s return was short-lived as he left in the second quarter with a right hip pointer. He stepped on Jason Richardson’s foot and hobbled to the locker room. Dooling tried to come out for the second half but was told by trainer Ed Lacerte to go back to the locker room. He is uncertain for tonight’s game against the Pacers.

The Celtics did welcome Mickael Pietrus back to the lineup after he missed Monday’s win with a strained right shoulder. He scored 12 points in 32 minutes playing in place of Allen. Pietrus hit a couple of early 3-pointers, then played strong second-half defense against Richardson.

O’Neal sidelined

Jermaine O’Neal said he knocked knees with Hedo Turkoglu while taking a charge on Monday and the swelling in the left knee has not subsided, taking him out of last night’s game. O’Neal said he would undergo an MRI when the team returned to Boston. Brandon Bass started in his place.

Luckily for the Celtics, they were able to counter with Chris Wilcox, who has missed nine of the team’s 16 games with a strained left shoulder and left calf. He played his best game of the season, with 4 points and 3 rebounds in 19 minutes, and more importantly played staunch defense against Magic star Dwight Howard.

Wilcox said he wasn’t quite ready but felt the need to return.

“It’s a great opportunity, but at the same time I want to be smart,’’ he said. “I’m still kind of uncomfortable with it right now so I want to be totally comfortable with the [injury] situation. Not really [ready] but at the same time it’s hard sitting over there watching.’’

Allens add to family

Allen’s wife Shannon gave birth to Wystan Ryan, the couple’s fourth son, born at 7:12 last night. Allen, who has missed the past two games with a jammed left ankle, is uncertain for tonight’s game. He was named to the Board of Directors of Back9Network, a new golf channel set to launch in late spring. Allen is an avid golfer . . . In two games against his former team, Glen “Big Baby’’ Davis was 5-for-20 shooting with 17 rebounds and 13 points . . . Since Hall of Famer Tom Heinsohn compared Greg Stiemsma’s shot-blocking ability to the great Bill Russell, Stiemsma is 2-for-5 shooting with 6 points and 22 personal fouls in 11 games . . . Kevin Garnett (12 points, 10 rebounds) has five double-doubles in his past 10 games.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashburn14

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