In a game Boston had no business winning, the Celtics got down to business when it mattered most.
Down 14 points with less than nine minutes remaining, the Celtics used a 14-0 run to climb back into contention and held on to beat the Orlando Magic, 92-88, in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference semifinal game at TD Banknorth Garden. The Celtics now lead the series, 3-2, and avoided facing an elimination game on the road for the first time in the era of the new Big Three.
The Celtics struggled on the offensive end in the first half, shooting 36 percent from the field in digging themselves an 8-point halftime hole. Rashard Lewis went to work on the Celtics down low in the first half, making 6 of 8 field goals for 12 points. Lewis finished as Orlando’s leading scorer with 19 points.
The Celtics failed to turn it around coming out of halftime. Rajon Rondo left the game with four fouls halfway through the third quarter and didn’t return until five minutes remained in the fourth. Without Rondo, the Celtics dug themselves even deeper, trailing, 77-63, with 8:49 remaining in the fourth.
But the Celtics somehow found life late and climbed back into the game with defense. Orlando’s last field goal came at the 5:39 mark in the fourth, the Magic going 0 for 8 from that point on. On the offensive end, Stephon Marbury scored 12 points in the fourth, becoming an improbable hero in a must-win game.
Ray Allen’s 3-pointer with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter completed the comeback and gave the Celtics their first lead of the second half. The Celtics made all six free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
Game 6 is Thursday night at 7 in Orlando. Stay tuned for postgame news and notes from the locker rooms, as well as video reaction from Globe columnists.