Final

Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/28

Game 1: Monday, November 28th
Magic87Final
Celtics83
Game 2: Saturday, February 4th
Celtics91Final
Magic100
Game 3: Sunday, February 12th
Magic94Final
Celtics102
Game 4: Friday, March 17th
Celtics77Final
Magic84

Magic 94

(19-30, 6-18 away)

Celtics 102

(20-31, 16-11 home)

    6:00 PM ET, February 12, 2006

    TD Garden, Boston, MA

    1 2 3 4 T
    ORL 16 29 26 2394
    BOS 28 19 25 30102

    Top Performers

    Orl: D. Howard 24 Pts, 11 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Blk

    Bos: W. Szczerbiak 24 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

    Pierce pours in 31 as Celtics slip past Howard, Magic

    BOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Celtics are benefiting from Doc Rivers' decision to keep things simple.

    Paul Pierce scored 31 points and Wally Szczerbiak added 24 to lead the Celtics to a 102-94 win over Orlando on Sunday night in Grant Hill's return to the Magic lineup.

    After acquiring Szczerbiak in a seven-player trade from Minnesota on Jan. 26 and losing frontcourt players Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins to injuries recently, Rivers knew he had to simplify the offense.

    "We just run two sets and that's what I told them because I know Wally knows them both," Rivers said. "That's all we're going to run, and we don't care if they know it's coming or not. We're just going to run it and as long as we execute it with Wally, Paul, Raef (LaFrentz) and Delonte (West's) ability to spread the floor, I still think we're going to get a good shot."

    LaFrentz had 16 points before fouling out and West scored 14 for Boston, which got only three points from its reserves. Ryan Gomes, making his second career start, had a career-high 14 points and nine rebounds.

    For the second straight game, the Celtics spaced the floor better to open things up for Pierce's drives and open 3s for LaFrentz.

    "Everybody's understanding their role," Pierce said. "It's a lot easier for me. Guys know what we're doing every time down. We run one, two, maybe three different plays."

    The TD Banknorth Garden was about a third full as a major snowstorm in the Northeast dumped more than a foot of snow in the area, but the fans that made it saw the Celtics' second straight home win after a season-high six-game losing streak. Boston beat Portland 115-83 on Friday.

    Dwight Howard had 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Magic, losers of five straight road games. Hedo Turkoglu added 16 points and Hill had 15 after missing last 13 games due to rehab from a sports hernia.

    "I feel pretty good," Hill said. "It's just a little rust out there, a couple of times I lost the ball."

    After the Magic tied it 84-all, Pierce scored six points -- five from the free throw line -- during a game-turning 12-4 run as Boston took a 96-88 lead with 1:30 left.

    "Well, in Paul Pierce, they have one of the best drivers in the game and unfortunately we fouled him a little too much," Orlando coach Brian Hill said.

    The Celtics made 10 of 14 3-pointers, led by LaFrentz's four and West's three.

    "It all goes back to moving the ball," Rivers said.

    Boston had opened a 81-73 edge on Gomes' two free throws with 9:01 to play, but Orlando used an 11-3 spurt, capped by Steve Francis' three-point play, to tie it with 4:56 left.

    The Celtics, who led 47-45 at the half, opened a 66-58 lead on Szczerbiak's 3-pointer midway into the third quarter before Howard had five points in a 11-0 run that pushed Orlando back in front.

    Boston's first two fast-break baskets of the game -- a dunk by Szczerbiak and Gomes' driving layup at the end of the third quarter --moved the Celtics ahead 72-71.

    Game notes


    A Celtics team spokesman said before the game that the team decided to play the game as scheduled because Orlando was in town and two of the referees were here, too. Referee Tom Washington couldn't make it to Boston due to the storm. ... The start of the second half was delayed after a male fan was injured during a halftime layup promotion and had to be taken off on a stretcher. ... West was selected to replace Orlando's injured guard Jameer Nelson on the sophomore team of the NBA's rookie challenge on All-Star weekend. ... Bruins winger Patrice Bergeron was in attendance. ... The Celtics' only home cancelations due to weather were during the Blizzard of 1978, Feb. 10th and 12th. ... Perkins missed his second straight with a dislocated left shoulder and Jefferson his fourth with a sprained right ankle.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

    SPONSORED HEADLINES

    Team Stat Comparison

     
    ORL
    BOS
    Points 94 102
    FGM-FGA 35-70 (.500) 33-66 (.500)
    3PM-3PA 2-12 (.167) 10-14 (.714)
    FTM-FTA 22-26 (.846) 26-31 (.839)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-37 5-24
    Assists 16 21
    Turnovers 17 10
    Steals 5 8
    Blocks 3 1
    Fast Break Points 15 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (1/0) 22 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 5 13

    Top Performers

    Orlando
    Boston
    Dwight Howard Howard
    Points: 24
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2
    Wally Szczerbiak Szczerbiak
    Points: 24
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0