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Friday, January 23, 2009

Celtics take back mantle of NBA's best

With last night's thrilling 90-80 win over the Orlando Magic at the Amway Arena, the Boston Celtics proved once again that they are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference and the NBA as a whole.

The Cavs lost Delonte West to a broken wrist last week so they're just a notch below and while the Magic (33-9) had been playing great-they came in winners of seven straight-they're not the defending champions.

The C's (36-9) have gotten back to their defensive roots that led them to the title and the 27-2 start this season. The win was their seventh in a row.

On a night when the NBA All-Star starters were announced, Paul Pierce proved why he's NBA elite, even if he'll have to make the East squad as a reserve.

The Truth had a game-high 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Kevin Garnett had 16 points and five rebounds. The key to the win, other than the air-tight D was the play of Glen Davis. Big Baby had a season-high 16 points and actually outplayed Magic center Dwight Howard (11 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks), who he covered most of the time he was in.

Ray Allen added 12 points, Rajon Rondo had nine points and eight rebounds and Kendrick Perkins managed seven points, seven boards and two blocks in 25 minutes as Doc Rivers tries to ease him back into the lineup.

Orlando has one of the best starting fives in the league but where they might run into trouble in the playoffs is their pathetic bench. It combined for a measly ten points last night.

Hedo Turkoglu led the Magic with 22 points and Rashard Lewis had a double-double himself with 20 points and 10 rebounds but it wasn't enough. Jameer Nelson notched 17 points.

The C's led 24-19 after the first quarter and 44-36 at the half. That lead was extended to 65-54 and Boston was able to hold off Orlando in the fourth (26-25 Magic).

For the game, the Celts shot 46.7% to the Magic's 38.2%. That offset the fact that Boston didn't make a 3-pointer (0-6) and Orlando had seven.

The Green and White came home and will face the up and down Dallas Mavericks on Sunday afternoon at the Garden.

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