Jeff already wrote a quick recap, but I thought this game was worth a lengthier one.
At the very beginning of the game it was clear that both teams wanted to get their points in the paints, first and foremost. A lot of drives, cuts and inside passes. With Orlando missing Dwight Howard, you'd expect them to try and find their 3 point rhythm early, and perhaps it's good they didn't.
Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley had it going early. Paul racking up 7 points and 8 assists in the quarter, with many of those assists coming from quick passes to a cutting Avery. Our fast little two-guard had 10 points in the first quarter, on his way to match his 23 career high in points. His starting role on this team can not be understated, with the most obvious change being his increased confidence on the offensive side of the ball.
Glen Davis scored 12 points in the quarter as he and Jason Richardson helped to keep this game close during the first few minutes of the quarter, seemingly getting into the paint at will. The C's seemed to pick up their game halfway through the quarter however, ending up on top 22 - 33.Second Quarter
The quarter started off messy as the Celtics got their first points 2 minutes into the quarter on some free-throws by Kevin Garnett. Marquis Daniels had a meaningful stretch straight after, scoring 4 points with what looked like a shadow of the past; his inside game. KG played a strong quarter, as did Big Baby Davis, but we looked slightly out of control, turning it over a fair bit.
What's worse, is the Magic picked up their three-point shooting, as they hit several timely threes. Jameer Nelson hit 3 of his shots in quick succession, making it a two-point game. To no-one's surprise, Pierce assisted on one of Bradley's patented baseline-cut-into-reverse-layups to answer the Magic run. Unfortunately, Paul then fouled JJ Redick on a three point shot, and another 3 point shot later the game was tied at 47 each.
In Pierce's defense, he did take over the game straight after that stretch, assisting on a jumper by Brandon Bass, a dunk by Bradley while hitting 2 jump shots and 2 foul shots himself in a two minute stretch.
Halftime score: 51 - 55, Boston.
The way the half ended was pretty much how the second half started; with The Truth leading the charge. Orlando had to flee into a time-out as Boston came out attacking where Orlando seemed flat, starting the quarter on a 2 - 7 run.
Pavlovic, largely unremarkable up until this moment, felt obliged to make his presence noted this quarter, turning the ball over and subsequently missing a layup. Two personal fouls later Doc Rivers yanked the Serbian native, stuffing the gap with some Dooling, effectively swapping "the unremarkable gone bad" for some more unremarkable.
As mentioned earlier, the Orland Magic didn't quite look to get their three-point shooting in gear early in the game, and this quarter is where this decision seemingly caught up with them. Where the second quarter had a few threes falling for them, they didn't seem to hit many in the third. Ultimately on their way to hitting just 6 of 24 attempts beyond the chalk, the Magic fumbled their way into another 8 point deficit halfway through the quarter.
What followed however was a foul-shooting fueled 9-0 run, giving the Magic a single point lead at 68-67. After exchanging the lead a few times during the next few minutes, Stiemsma decided to go on his daily defensive spree. A steal and two blocks later, Pierce had racked up 4 points and his 14th assist (a career high), with Bass adding 4 points to put us back up by 9 at the end of the third (79-70).
The fourth quarter saw some KG and Etwaun Moore magic early, as Moore racked up 5 points and single assist in a hurry, meanwhile putting the Celtics up 91 - 78. Stiemsma drew a nice offensive foul, but ended up nabbing his 5th foul with 6 minutes to go while the Magic again made a run, scoring 12 points while the Celtics only managed a lone free-throw.
As Orlando covered ground quickly and managed to get within 1 point of the C's, Pierce took the team on it's back again with some vintage moves, allowing us to keep a decent lead. Rebounding as a whole however let us down significantly during this stretch, giving the Magic ample opportunity to finish us off.
Luckily, they failed.
Really, Orlando was their own worst enemy down the stretch, fumbling the ball, turning it over and missing open layups. Pierce capitalized, coming up big on the final possessions, scoring and making his freebies, allowing us a 102-98 win.
Celtics win: 102 - 98
Pierce once again showed why he's the Captain of this team and the go-to guy late in the game. His effort tonight, along with Bradley's scoring and KG's solid game, shows that we are tough, even with half of our "big four" being out. Honorable mentions go to Stiemsma's 4 blocked shots and the ever-solid Bass, who added 21 points on 7-11 shooting.
The game in many ways showed this team's resilience, as we fought hard to keep in the game, even though our defense wasn't as solid as it should have been. Allowing opponents to score 90+ points is not something we should endeavor to repeat, though it's nice to know we can win scoring competitions as well.
Stud of the game:
Paul Pierce, obviously, with a career-high 14 assists, 29 points on 9-14 shooting, 11-12 on his freethrows and 5 rebounds, carrying the team in the moments we needed him most.
Dud of the game:
Sasha Pavlovic, managing 0 points on 0-3 shooting in a starting role, 3 personal fouls and 2 turnovers, most of which happened within a stretch where we needed him to perform.