After the disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday (the C's fourth home loss of the season), the Boston Celtics had something to show to the world and, in particular, Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.
Boston came out flat in the first quarter and Orlando led 22-17 after the Celtics committed 7 turnovers and shot just 29 % from the field.
In the second quarter, Marquis Daniels went down with an ugly neck injury on a seemingly harmless foul by Gilbert Arenas. Daniels had to be taken to the hospital on a stretcher but did make a thumbs up sign just before he was carried out to the ambulance. The Celtics played much better in the second frame, ignited by Rajon Rondo's aggressive moves towards the basket, and they led 46-43 at halftime. Rondo had 13 at the break.
The Magic trailed for the rest of the game as Boston played their patented team defense, contesting every shot and hustling for every possession. The final score was 91-80. Rajon Rondo led the way with 26 points as the Magic (Jameer Nelson in particular) had no way of stopping him.
The Celtics now stand at 38 wins, 12 losses, good for first seed in the East and the second seed overall. The C's trail only the 42-8 San Antonio Spurs for home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Rajon Rondo led the Celts with 26 points and 7 assists, Ray Allen added 11- and is now only four three-point field goals away from beating Reggie Miller's all-time NBA record of 2560 treys made - and Paul Pierce had 18 points and dished out 5 assists. Kevin Garnett chipped in 16 points and 9 rebounds and "Big Baby" Glen Davis had 11 off the bench. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 28 points and 13 rebounds while Jameer Nelson and Jason Richardson added 10 apiece. Should the two teams end up with the same record at season's end, the win secures the Celtics the tiebreaker, as they won two out of the three games played by the two Eastern Conference powerhouses this season.
The Green and White next face D.J. Augustin, Stephen Jackson and the Charlotte Bobcats tomorrow, Monday 2/7 2011 at 7 PM EST at the Time Warner Cable Arena.