On Monday night, Kevin Garnett made his long awaited return to the Celtics lineup. After missing 9 games due to a strained calf muscle, he returned for one of the most anticipated games of the year, a rematch vs. the Orlando Magic. And in the end, Garnett stole the show. He ended the night with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and the steal that iced it, giving the Celtics a two possession advantage at 109-104. It is almost as if he didn’t miss a beat.
Orlando survived on the strength of their perimeter shooting, sinking 11-27 shots from beyond the arc. Dwight Howard, per usual, was a monster. Ending the night with 33 points, 13 rebounds, and tallying 18 total free throw attempts, Howard certainly did everything within in power to take one step closer to the conference leading Celtics. The retooled Orlando Roster strung together a 9 game win streak shortly after acquiring Richardson, Turkoglu, and Arenas, but with the loss in Boston have now dropped 3 of their last 4. The loss gives the Magic 15 total on the season, a number that has caused them to slip to 5th in the conference. Uncharted territory for a team that has been one of the conference powerhouses for the last three seasons.
Boston got another exemplary team effort, as each member of the starting 5 reached double figures in scoring, with 26 for Ray, 14 for Pierce, 12 for Shaq, and 10 for Rondo. Ray and Turkoglu, two of the league’s premiere shooters, put forth their best effort by trading blows late. With two minutes left, Hedo hit an improbable fadeaway 3 as the shot clock expired, putting Orlando up 101-99. Ray responded, igniting vociferous tones from the crowd, by hitting a leaning trey from the corner. Boston up 102-101. Just a minute later with the game gridlocked at 104 a piece, Pierce had his time to shine. Putting out his patented jab step head fake move, Pierce drew Richardson up in the air, got the contact, and promptly buried the jumper. Three point play, 107-104 Celtics. On the following possession Jameer Nelson was picked off by Garnett, all but sealing the victory.
Garnett looked great in his return, bringing some much needed energy to a team that has been rather lethargic as of late. Unfortunately the big man’s return didn’t necessarily mean stingier defense for this bout, as Orlando shot 46% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc. While the Magic bombed away from outside, however, the Celtics were getting the easy points all night long. Boston dominated inside the paint, scoring 52 points down low. The C’s shot 60% overall, adding to their already staggeringly impressive shooting touch this season. Despite their defense seeing the point totals rise on the other end, the Celtics are converting at an almost unfathomable rate, 50.3% overall. Priding themselves on the extra pass, the C’s garnered 25 total assists tonight, with 13 coming from their play-maker Rondo. So while tonight was an old fashioned shootout, we can only hope that with KG back in the lineup that the teams priorities will fall back into place again. The Celtics look to avenge another loss on their schedule on Wednesday when they host the Detroit Pistons at home.
NBA Related Article: Contraction Does Nothing… Does It? http://prosportsblogging.com/nba-basketball/contraction-does-nothing-dummy/
About the Author
Written by Michael Johnson
I am a recent graduate of Endicott College having earned my Bachelors Degree in Communications. I bleed green and will until I die. If you'd like to talk sports I'm available on facebook and my email address is Johnson3448@comcast.net. You can also follow me on twitter @johnsoncookie.