TRADE TO ANNOUNCE: The Magic were without the services of Micheal Bradley and Cuttino Mobley, who were traded before the game to the Sacramento Kings for Doug Christie. Steve Francis wore one of Cat's armbands in either remembrance or protest, that issue hasn't been cleared up yet.
While we're having random thoughts out loud: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO WILLIE MAY (44th).
The game started out, at least for the first 8 points, as the Raef and Gary Payton show. The defensive intensity for the 1st team was clearly better at the start of the game and the C's were swarming. By the 7:30 mark, all of the Celtics starters were in the scorebook. GP hit a 3 at 6:40 and the C's were off and running with a 18-6 lead.
Paul Pierce had a nice block on Jameer Nelson. GP scored and then PP took an offensive charge at the 4:00 mark and the C's were up 24-14. Orlando started to exert it's size advantage down low with Cato and Howard. With 2 mins left, Orlando was starting to creep back into this one. A Pat Garrity runner ended the 1st quarter: 32-26 Celtics.
Celtics rookie sensation Tony Allen opened the 2nd quarter with a score. Then all of the Celtic Nation held it's collective breaths at 9:36 when Al Jefferson went to the lockerroom. Apparently, Al was suffering from a cold tonight, but that wasn't the issue: He had blood on his jersey and had to change to a new #8 top. By the 9:22 mark he was back in, to probably everyone's relief. During the time Celtics fans waited for word on Jefferson, Jiri scored to make it 42-28.
Orlando called a timeout, after a sweet dish to Kendrick Perkins produced a nasty 2 handed facial on Former Celtic Tony (The Batman, el busto, or whatever knickname you held for him) Battie (who coincidentally didn't have a bad game).
Raef hit a 3pter at the 6:30 mark and the C's enjoyed a 51-32 lead. However, Franchise started to heat up with 2 quick scores in a row and an RD hoop and harm 3pt play kept the C's cushion comfortable at 60-42 with 2:40 left. TA displayed some great athleticism on an aerobatic pump and score layup with 1:50 left, making it 65-44 Celtics.
At halftime: 65-50 Celtics.
Pierce hit a 3 and then played defense, collecting another offensive charge against Orlando with around 8:40 in the 3rd and the C's lead was 74-56. Jiri hit a 3 a short while later and Orlando called another timeout with 8:16 left in the 3rd and trailiing 77-56. The strategy break didn't help the Magic much and a nice PP to GP pass play for a layup at 7:10 and the C's lead continued to grow to 81-57. The C's made the 3rd quarter the deciding one for the purposes of this game and actually put this one away early. A nice mix of defensive intensity, rebounding (yes, I said rebounding) and passing and the Celtics took a 93-66 lead into the 4th quarter.
The "accelerators" (2nd unit) as Tommy and Mike call them started the 4th and at the 9:30 mark, the Celtics enjoyed thier largest lead of the game: 100-70. However, the "accelerators" seemed to have as much problem with closing games with a big lead as the starters do, forcing PP and GP back into the game with 6:30 left, the score now 100-83. RD hit a 3pter at the 4:00 mark and the C's led 108-91. The rest was mostly going through the motions of getting the game done with. RD did have a nice steal and reverse dunk at 2:24 to give those still watching some entertainment. At that point, it was 114-95.
The game ended with a Celtics win: 119-101.
Notes of relevance:
1. The Celtics outrebounded the best rebounding team in the NBA tonight.
2. Delonte West will have medical clearance and return to practice this Thursday!
3. Every Celtics Starter scored in double figures, with RD, TA and (Edit) AJ joining them.
Player of the Game: THE CELTICS TEAM
Sorry to take the easy route, but this was a bounce back game against a +.500 opponent, after most of the Celtics team had been called out by thier Coach on various issues, defense being the biggest. They all responded and came out to play tonight and the fruits of that effort were obvious.