AP Photo/Scott Iskowitz
Paul Pierce works against Jameer Nelson during Sunday's clash in Orlando.Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic 116-110 in overtime on Sunday night at the Amway Center:
THE NITTY GRITTY
Kevin Garnett scored a team-high 25 points to go along with 10 rebounds, while Rajon Rondo flirted with a triple-double (15 points, 16 assists, 9 rebounds) as the Celtics escaped with their second straight win. Paul Pierce added 23 points, while Brandon Bass kicked in a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds) for Boston. Jameer Nelson scored 20 points for Orlando and fueled their second-half rally, while J.J. Redick added a team-high 21 points off the bench. Old friends Glen Davis (15 points, 7 rebounds) and E'Twaun Moore (8 points, 2 assists) helped the Magic hang around.
FREE BASKETBALL: RONDO BREAKS GAME OPEN
Rondo -- maybe surprisingly -- called his own number twice on odd-man breaks late in the overtime session, delivering a pair of layups (the second of which was completely uncontested) that -- combined with a big Pierce 3-pointer -- helped Boston pull away in the extra session. The Magic did have a chance to tie the game and Nelson got a quality look at a 3-pointer from the right wing, but it was off the mark and the Celtics sealed their triumph at the free throw line.
RONDO MATCHES STOCKTON
Rondo posted his 37th straight game with double-digit assists, matching the mark of Utah's John Stockton for the second longest run in NBA history. After handing out nine first-half helpers, Rondo got No. 10 just 2:11 into the third quarter when he fed Pierce for a 3-pointer that had Boston out front by 10. Rondo had four assists over the game's first four minutes to jump-start his quest. Rondo now sets his sights on Magic Johnson's NBA record of 46 consecutive games with double-digit assists.
TURNING POINT 1: MAGIC GET HOT
The Celtics were up 11 with eight minutes to play in the third quarter, but the Magic caught fire and quickly surged ahead. It was Nelson who did much of the damage and his 3-point shot with 40 seconds to play in the frame tied the game, then he added a 15-foot fadeaway before the buzzer to send the Magic into the fourth quarter up 82-80. Orlando was 13-of-17 shooting in the third while outscoring Boston 34-22. The Magic pushed their lead as high as seven in the fourth quarter, but ...
TURNING POINT 2: CELTICS RALLY BACK
The Celtics were down six with less than five minutes to go, but Garnett rallied them back and his 20-foot jumper 1:21 to go tied the game at 102. Both teams squandered opportunities and Boston got the final shot where old habits die hard as the Celtics went to Pierce at the elbow, but they didn't get the switch they were looking for and Pierce's 15-foot fadeaway over Arron Afflalo rimmed out to send the game to overtime.
WHAT IT MEANS
Nothing comes easy for the Green, but a win is a win. After making strides with Friday's statement win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Boston couldn't let this game slip away. Garnett carried them down the stretch of regulation and Rondo's rare selfishness in overtime helped ensure the win. The Celtics (8-6) have a couple of days off before they host the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday at TD Garden. A back-to-back looms later in the week when Boston hosts the Trail Blazers on Friday before traveling to Milwaukee on Saturday.