The Boston Celtics knocked the Orlando Magic from the top perch in the overall NBA standings with a 90-80 win on Thursday, leaving Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to blame himself.
“I’m pretty big on holding players accountable,” Van Gundy said. “On this one, it’s me. I’ve got to find a way for us to get some ball movement and freedom of movement where we can get some shots. So I’m frustrated in myself.”
It’s a common reaction among coaches after recent games against the defending champion Celtics, who moved level with Cleveland on win percentage atop the Eastern Conference, and just behind the Los Angeles Lakers in the West.
Boston’s Paul Pierce had 27 points and 10 rebounds, Glen Davis added a season-high 16 points and Boston disrupted everything Orlando wanted offensively, holding the Magic to a season-low in points.
Orlando’s Dwight Howard, who on Thursday became the first player in league history to receive 3 million votes in a season for the All-Star game, was held to a relatively ordinary 11 points and 11 rebounds. He fouled out with 2:30 left, and Orlando’s run of seven straight wins was snapped.
Lakers 117, Wizards 97
In Los Angeles, the home team maintained its outright lead in the league percentage standings with a comfortable win over struggling Washington.
Andrew Bynum had 23 points and 14 rebounds and Spaniard Pau Gasol added 18 points for the Lakers.
On the third anniversary of his franchise-record 81-point game, Kobe Bryant had 11 points, five assists and four rebounds in 28 minutes for Los Angeles.
Earlier in the day, Bryant was selected to start in the All-Star game for the 11th consecutive season.
Los Angeles’ 34-8 start is their best since 1971-1972, and coach Phil Jackson had the luxury of resting many of his starters over the course of successive games against lowly Washington and the LA Clippers.