FINAL: Magic 83, Celtics 78
Bad offensive possessions cost the Celtics down the stretch. The Celtics shot 35 percent from the field for the game and made 2 of 18 from three. Despite the closeness of the score, the Celtics never really seemed in it.
More to come from the locker rooms.
58.4 fourth quarter, Magic 82-78
A fall-away by Vince Carter and free throws by Rashard Lewis have the Magic up by four. Lewis drew a tough foul call on that last play, leaning into Paul Pierce with the shot clock winding down.
2:53 fourth quarter, Tied at 78
Rasheed Wallace's floater over Dwight Howard sends both teams to the bench for a timeout. Howard is visibly frustrated. He has no help down low -- the Celtics are sending three guys to rebound compared to just Howard for Orlando.
4:49 fourth quarter, Magic 75-74
Paul Pierce's driving layup has the Celtics within one, but Rasheed Wallace tossed up another errant three (his seventh miss) when the Celtics had a chance to take the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
7:01 fourth quarter, Magic 73-70
Rasheed Wallace has missed all six three-pointers he's taken, but a trey by Eddie House pulls the Celtics closer, once again.
10:05 fourth quarter, Magic 66-63
It felt like a 20-point deficit the way the Celtics were playing, but with a drive and bucket by Ray Allen, the lead is down to three. The Celtics are still in this game despite shooting 34 percent.
END third quarter, Magic 66-59
Here's a stat that tells you all you need to know: The Celtics are 1 of 11 from three. OK one more stat: They're shooting 33 percent overall.
3:02 third quarter, Magic 64-57
Brian Scalabrine checks in.
5:52 third quarter, Magic 58-52
There's a timeout on the floor (thanks, ESPN), so it's time for a reset. The Celtics are shooting 36 percent, compared to 43 percent for Orlando. The Celtics are led by Paul Pierce with 14 points. Rashard Lewis has 14 points for the Magic. Kendrick Perkins has five fouls, while Mickael Pietrus has four.
7:25 third quarter, Magic 56-48
Kendrick Perkins just picked up his fifth foul, then a technical to go along with it, for bumping Matt Barnes on the sideline. This is not Perk's game.
9:58 third quarter, Magic 49-44
Kevin Garnett comes up limping, his right knee (the one with the brace) the culprit. Garnett got tangled up with several Magic players in the lane and bent down awkwardly. He came up wincing but stayed in the game.
HALFTIME: Magic 43-40
Try as they did to be out of it, the Celtics are right back in this game.
OK, so it's unfair to say the Celtics didn't try in the first quarter. It's just that everything was going wrong for them then. The C's clamped down on defense, bringing Orlando down to 43 percent shooting and forcing 11 turnovers. Meanwhile, they've hung in on the offensive end with (slightly) better execution, though they are shooting 33 percent.
Paul Pierce leads the Celtics with 10 points. Mickael Pietrus has 11 points for Orlando, the same total he had after the first quarter.
1:46 second quarter, Magic 41-40
Vince Carter just picked up his third foul as he held Ray Allen and tried to prevent Allen from coming around a pick. Dumb foul. Dumber because it put Allen at the line.
4:22 second quarter, Magic 38-32
Finally some momentum.
The Celtics, bolstered by a suffocating defense and strong run-outs, are climbing back into this game. Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo have led the charge, forcing a couple of turnovers that led to points. Orlando now has nine turnovers for the game, compared to just three for Boston. And more importantly, the crowd is back in it.
5:43 second quarter, Magic 35-26
Not long until halftime now, and the Celtics are shooting 26 percent and are stuck at 26 points.
7:45 second quarter, Magic 33-22
Paul Pierce is in with the second unit, but he's trying too hard to take over the game. He's taking the ball to the hole, which is good, but he's not looking for his teammates, even when the Magic are double-teaming down low and leaving someone open.
At the same time, Pierce leads the Celtics with eight points. No one else is stepping up on offense for Boston.
9:47 second quarter, Magic 29-20
The second unit is making things happen on the defensive end -- the Magic are down to 50 percent.
END first quarter, Magic 29-13
It's all going right for Orlando. It's all going wrong for the Celtics.
The Magic are shooting a blistering 65 percent, including 5 of 7 from beyond the arc. The Celtics, meanwhile, are down at 21 percent. They have yet to make a three. Too many easy looks for the Magic -- the Celtics' rotations are breaking down all over the place. Meanwhile, the C's are forcing up all sorts of awful shots.
Mickael Pietrus (11 points) traveled before nailing a three at the end of the quarter, which would have given him more points than the Celtics. By himself.
3:12 first quarter, Magic 24-13
Vince Carter picks up his second personal foul and goes to the bench. Moments earlier, fans (OK, one fan) chanting "steroids" with Rashard Lewis on the line.
5:43 first quarter, Magic 17-6
Ray Allen leaves with his second personal foul, replaced by Marquis Daniels.
6:38 first quarter, Magic 17-6
This went bad in a hurry. The Magic have missed only one shot in eight chances and have hit 3 of 4 from three. The crowd is groaning.
9:43 first quarter, Celtics 5-4
If statements matter, Kendrick Perkins made one on the Celtics' first offensive possession, grabbing an offensive rebound and up-faking Dwight Howard about five times before putting the ball back in.
Elan Trotman on the soprano sax for the national anthem. Amazing. Also the "Noise-Meter" maxed out during intros. Not sure how official any of these rankings really are, but it's a great crowd for what should be a great game.