The Boston Celtics overcame a 27-point deficit with a remarkable second-half rally to stun the Orlando Magic 91-83 at the Amway Center on Thursday, inflicting a second defeat on the hosts in less than a week.
The win was the third straight for the depleted Celtics (8-9), who were without starting guards Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, as well as center Jermaine O’Neal due to injuries. Boston defeated Orlando 87-56 on Monday.
Orlando (12-6) made a slow start and sent Dwight Howard to the bench early after he got into foul trouble, but the Magic still found their form and dominated the first half, building a 27-point lead at one stage and a 58-37 advantage at halftime.
“It should give us tremendous confidence, especially with guys hurt, key guys hurt,” Celtics forward Paul Pierce told reporters. “We didn’t have Jermaine to guard Dwight, we’re without our All-Star point guard, our All-Star two-guard. Everything was in the making for us to lay down and get ready for tomorrow, but there’s something about this locker room where the light has switched on.”
Increased defensive pressure by the Celtics in the second half forced the Magic into nine turnovers and 23 percent shooting from the field while settling for poor shots.
“We got frustrated with the physical play. We got frustrated with the officials and just got totally out of our game,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It was tough to watch.”
Boston closed the game on a 44-15 run led by Pierce, who scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half. Pierce also had 10 assists.
E’Twaun Moore added 16 points for Boston and was 4 for 4 from three point territory.
CLIPPERS 98, GRIZZLIES 91
In Los Angeles, the Clippers moved to the top of the Pacific Division with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday.
Blake Griffin scored 20 points, while Chris Paul added 18 points and seven assists in his second game back from injury, helping move the Clippers above their Los Angeles rivals, the Lakers.
Griffin added nine rebounds and eight assists as the Clippers maintained a narrow lead throughout the final period.
Rudy Gay scored 24 points for the Grizzlies, who missed a chance to move above defending champion Dallas in the Southwest Division.