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Celtics 86, Magic 77

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff  December 25, 2009 12:25 PM

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FOURTH QUARTER:
End of game: The Celtics held Orlando to 33.3 percent shooting from the floor and 19.2 percent shooting from 3-point range, picking up the Christmas Day win and upping their record to 23-5 behind a 17-point, 13-rebound, 8-assist performance from Rajon Rondo.

1:02 78-75: Rashard Lewis drained the 3 in the corner but on the other end you could hear the thud as Kevin Garnett hit the hardwood. Tony Allen got caught underneat him, and Garnett took the hard fall. Rasheed Wallace called a timeout, Garnett was down for a few seconds, but walked to the bench on his own power. He didn't, however, come back on the floor after the timeout.

1:11 76-72: Jameer Nelson bulled by Rajon Rondo and put in a lay-up from the left side to cut it to 4.

5:34 74-64: Tony Allen's like that player they used to keep on And-1 rosters just to finish off passes with dunks. After Rondo grabbed a rebound at the Orlando end, Allen ran the floor with him. Rondo wrapped a pass behind his back, and Allen dotted the play with a one-handed dunk that'll make the play a SportsCenter entry.

6:52 70-64 Celtics: Two-shot game after a tough Vince Carter layup. Matt Barnes was whistled for a foul and the crowd here at Amway broke out the "Ref you suck!" chant. Merry Christmas.

8:40 67-58 Celtics: Eddie House got a Christmas gift from the rim. His three-ball bounced around a few times before falling in and giving the Celtics a 67-58 lead.

THIRD QUARTER 
End of Quarter, 61-53 Celtics: Boston is 19-1 when they lead after three quarters. 

56.9, 61-51 Celtics:  Ray Allen ran up the baseline to the corner opposite the Magic bench for a catch-and-shoot 3 that put the Celtics up 10. After starting the game 0 for 4, Allen made all three of his third wuarter shots, including a pair of 3s.

3:52, 51-42 Celtics: Jameer Nelson was trying to work the pick and roll with Dwight Howard, but got the ball plucked by Rasheed Wallace, it turned into a fast break with Rondo and Ray Allen. rondo dumped it off to Allen who finished it with a two-hand dunk.It was Rondo's first assist of the night.

6:02 49-40 Celtics: Sort of expected Vince Carter to show signs of life after the break. He's scored 8 of Orlando's 13 points, attacking the rim as much as possible. He drove from the left wing and put up a floater over Kendrick Perkins then minutes later sliced down the lane, threw down a dunk that Kevin Garnett didn't bother to defend.

10:22 38-27 Celtics: Kendrick Perkins and Dwight Howard were battling in the paint when Dwight Howard was whistled for the foul, his fourth. He didn't like it, so he complained, drawing a tech. Predictably, moments later, Stan Van Gundy got one himself. 

SECOND QUARTER
End of quarter, 38-27 Celtics: Orlando's been bad against the Celtics defense, but how bad? Actually, a franchise. The Magic's 27 first half points ties the all-time low set January 2005 in Houston.They also matched their worst quarter with 8 points in the second. And those eight-second-quarter points represent the worst second-quarter output in team history. The Celtics held Orlando to 25.1 percent shooting in the half. 

Meanwhile with Paul Pierce out and Ray Allen 0-for-4 from the floor in the first half, Rajon Rondo's had to play more of a scorer's role than a distributer's. He has no assists, but he's got a game-high 13 points and he's been on the floor for all but 1:17 seconds. Kendrick Perkins only played a minute in the first quarter, picking up two fouls in a 1:10. But in the second he scored 6 points on 3 of 3 shooting, swatting two shots, grabbing two rebounds and frustrating Dwight Howard by shoving off the low block.

3:36, 30-25 Celtics: Rondo slashed to the basket and put a layup in despite a bump from Vince Carter to give the Celtics their first lead of the night. He sank the free throw to stretch it to 3. Then Tony Allen came back down and made a fast break layup to put the Cs up 5.  

5:36: 25-24 Magic: Hard to say which stat's uglier. Rondo doesn't have an assist yet. But he's got five turnovers. But he's also been on the floor longer than anyone on either bench (17 minutes).

7:07: 25-22 Magic: We've got a Glen Davis sighting. he's in for Shelden Williams and is on the floor with Rondo, Tony Allen, Kendrick Perkins and Eddie House. His right hand's taped upped.

8:08 23-19 Magic: Orlando's current lineup -- J.J. Redick, Ryan Anderson, Marcin Gortat, Jason Williams (and Matt Barnes). Someone on press row describe the players as "heady," "overachieveing" and "scrappy."

8:57, 21-18 Magic: Check the shooting. Boston's 6 of 18 (33.3 percent). Orlando's 7 of 23 (30.4). This quarter, the Cs are 0 for 3, and Orlando's 1 for 5 so far. Brrrr.

FIRST QUARTER
End of quarter, 19-18:  The most entertaining matchup is easily Vince Carter and Brian Scalabrine. The esteemed A. Sherrod Blakely pointed out that it looked like Carter was so excited at one point to see Scal in front of him that he forgot to dribble. That said, Scal's plus-5 for the game. The Celtics went on a 12-7 run once Scal hit the floor.  

1:45, 19-18: Rasheed Wallace drilled a three from up top off a kickout from Kevin Garnett. The Cs are shooting 50 percent from the floor. That was their first three of the night.

4:18, 15-10: Kevin Garnett gets hit with a tech by Bob Delaney. Garnett and Dwight Howard were wrestling under the basket. Garnett made a little extra effort to stop Howard from falling all over him. Delaney hit him with a T. Kevin argued it, but not enough to get another one. Howard, on the other hand, just grinned.

5:08, 12-10: Rondo's being aggressive with the jumper. He missed the first one he took, but he just stuck a free-throw line J that pulled the Celtics within two.

5:54, 12-8, Magic: Rajon Rondo made a hard drive down the lane, went up and faked a lay-up and made a pass behind his head for Kevin Garnett, but Garnett never saw it. It bounced out of bounds for the Celtics sixth turnover in six minutes (five points),

7:19, 12-6 Magic: Scal's on the floor with at the 3, Kevin Garnett's at the 4 and Rasheed Wallace is at the 5.

8:23, 10-6 Magic: Kendrick Perkins went to the bench quick with two fouls. Tony Allen's got two himself. Mickael Pietrus and Vince Carter have given the Magic all their scoring.

THE THREE CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE YOU MIGHT SEE GLEN DAVIS

1: Extreme Celtics blowout

2. Extreme Magic blowout

3. Foul trouble

Davis practiced for an hour yesterday and was stilling getting the hang of things. Rivers said, "I want him to get off to a great start. I don’t want him to come in struggling and put more pressure on himself. So if I can keep him out of that situation I’m going to do it."

WORKING TONY ALLEN IN WITH THE STARTERS
The key in Tony Allen's latest comeback has been that Doc has tried not to overwhelm him. Now, with Paul Pierce out, Allen's in the starting lineup.

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Rivers said even with Allen starting, he doesn't want to set him up for failure, so it will require a change in offensive strategy.


"We’re going to change a little bit," Rivers said. "Tony can’t do what Paul does so I’m not going to ask him to. We’re just going to try to keep him in positions where he can be successful, and you put him in Paul positions he will not be."

What hurts more is having Pierce and Marquis Daniels (thumb) down at the same time. Essentially, the Celtics don't have a small forward. Rivers said he'd play Ray Allen at the 3 and put Eddie House in as a small shooting guard in some scenarios. 

"Before we could dictate the matchups," Rivers said. "Now that’s pretty much taken away at the guard spots."

BALL HUMBUG?

So this whole Christmas Day game stuff? Overrated, says Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.

Word just a month ago was that Van Gundy -- kind of a Grinch -- would work on all his pessimism. He tried not to complain a ton about playing on Christmas, but an ounce of complaining from Van Gundy goes a long way. "I would rather not play on Christmas, but, like I said, the league has been good to all of us in terms of what we get out of these TV contracts," Van Gundy said. "It would be a little bit disingenuous to complain too much. If I had my way we'd take a five-day break at Christmas. I think we get a little carried away with ourselves in sports thinking we're so much more important than everything else. 

Van Gundy(250).JPG"But that's the way it is -- there's nothing more important than the NBA, it has to be the focal point of your Christmas Day." The leagues' slate of five games started in New York, where the Knicks are currently being drowned by the Heat.

"I know this, I won't watch one second of the other four games," Van Gundy said. "I have no interest whatsoever. I'm a big basketball guy but this is a day to spend time with your family. That's not a great advertisement for Stan Van Gundy on the NBA. I actually feel sorry for people that have nothing better to do on Christmas Day than watch an NBA game."

Van Gundy said he watched Christmas games involving teams coached by his brother, Jeff. "There are some days in the year where it's got to take a backseat to something but the league doesn't feel that way,'' Van Gundy said. "I think they can do without five games, I don't think we need a third of our league playing. All these people working at the areana -- you're just taking a lot of people away from their families. I think it's our view that there's absolutely nothing more important.


WELCOME TO AMWAY ARENA
Happy Holidays, everybody. Hope Santa was good to you.

There are enough stories away from the basketball court in both Boston and Orlando to put you in the Christmas spirit. On the floor, it's hard to ignore the one lump of coal the Celtics have to deal with.

Paul Pierce will sit out today after having surgery for an infection in his right knee. It will be the first game Pierce has missed all season. the good news for the Celtics is that head coach Doc Rivers said yesterday that it was likely that Pierce would miss less than the two weeks doctors had originally projected. 

Kevin Garnett will be on the floor for the Celtics, who've won eight straight road games and are 12-1 on the road overall. The Celtics, allowing a league-low 92.0 points per game, played without their defensive leader Tuesday against the Pacers but pulled out a 103-94 win. 

Injury-wise, things are working the other way for the Magic.Jameer Nelson, who had been out since mid-November after having surgery on his left knee, made his return Monday, and after looking rusty against the Jazz (missing all six of his shots in 14 minutes), he looked sharper against Houston (scoring 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting in 29 minutes).

Quick fact: The Celtics have never hosted a Christmas Day game. They're 9-15 on the road, 1-0 in neutral sites, 10-15 overall. The Magic are 4-2 on Christmas. They beat New Orleans last year at home.
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