Playing without Dwight Howard (herniated disk) for the 6th consecutive game the Orlando Magic gave the Boston Celtics all they could handle before falling short 102-98.
It took 29 points and a career high 14 assists from Paul Pierce to give the Celtics the narrow victory down the stretch.
Pierce made a clutch jumper with 8 seconds to play and then drilled two free throws with 3 seconds left to seal the victory.
Glen Davis returned from a one game absence and continued his inspired and torrid play. Davis had 27 points and 7 rebounds on 12-16 from the floor. He and Jameer Nelson (21 points and 9 assists) were the offense for the Magic all night long. Davis clearly wanted to prove a point to his former team and silence some of the talk on how much better Brandon Bass fits for the Celtics.
With the way he was playing it was a shame Van Gundy didn’t give him 40 minutes as Davis finished with a +11 while on the floor.
The Magic battled back from double digit deficits 3 times in the game with the final run coming in the fourth quarter. Orlando trailed by 12 with just over 3 minutes remaining. Showing true heart and grit in a game the Celtics probably should have won going away.
Orlando bullied the Celtics on the boards (as all teams do) 43-29 grabbing 17 offensive rebounds which lead to 16 second chance points. That is precisely how they were able to stay in the game. Ryan Anderson had 5 of his 9 rebounds come on the offensive end while Davis grabbed 4 of his 7 rebounds on the offensive side as well.
While the Magic ultimately came up short, the aggressive play of both Davis and Nelson are nice signs for the team. If Hedo Turkgolu and Howard can return for the playoffs combined with this version of Big Baby and Nelson, the Magic will be intriguing to say the least.
Rumors are swirling that Eastern Conference teams are lining up to play the Magic in the first round. A team in disarray, as the Magic are perceived to be, would/should certainly succumb to the pressure of the playoffs and that is why teams are licking their chops at a potential match-up.
The absence of Howard has alleviated some drama around Orlando and allowed Coach Van Gundy to just coach. The team is playing with great chemistry and the hope is that Superman will return to help lead an improbable playoff run.
Teams may have their chops licked but might end up with their butts kicked if they take the Magic too lightly come playoff time.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com