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Monday, February 7, 2011

There is absolutely no reason to fear the Orlando Magic

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers and his team have crafted the perfect way to shutdown the Orlando Magic: let Dwight Howard have a big day and try to make the rest of their one-dimensional players beat you.

That was the story yesterday afternoon as the Celts (38-12) won one of their most impressive games of the season, 91-80 over the Magic (32-20) at the TD Garden.

Howard had a game-high 28 points and 13 rebounds but the Cs held him to six second-half points. Even more pathetic or funny (depending on your allegiances) was the fact that Orlando went 3-for-24 as a team on 3-pointers.

Obviously, they are a great 3-point shooting team and that number is a season-low and an anomaly but it shows how they only know one way to win: dump it into Howard and if that doesn't work, bomb threes.

The Magic have a bunch of decent role players but nobody that can take over if Howard ever struggles. Ryan Anderson had 12 points and seven rebounds while Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson scored 10 points apiece.

One of the most scary incidents I can remember in all the years I've watched the Celtics occurred early in the second quarter as swingman Marquis Daniels went down with a neck injury. He wasn't moving and was transported to New England Baptist Hospital. He has had neck issues in the past so it was a very serious issue and somber scene.

Credit to Boston for being able to rally from that emotionally taxing moment. Rajon Rondo was the star as he repeatedly drove to the hoop for a team-high 26 points and seven assists.

Paul Pierce added 18 points, Kevin Garnett scored 16 points and Ray Allen had 11 (he needs three more 3-pointers to tie Reggie Miller's all-time NBA record). Kendrick Perkins did his best Ben Wallace impression with 0 points and 13 rebounds while Glen Davis had 11 points and six rebounds off the bench.

Orlando got out to a 22-17 lead in the first quarter as Boston started off very slow in the Super Bowl matinee. The Celts took a 46-43 lead and never looked back from there. They took the defensive second half, 24-18 in the third and 21-19 in the fourth.

For the game, the Cs shot 47.6% to the Magic's 34.4%. The Celtics made 15 more free throws (28-13) while Orlando pulled down five more rebounds (46-41). Boston had eight more assists (21-13) and three more blocks (4-1).

As I always say with this team, back-to-backs are never easy, no matter who they face. Still, the Celtics completely own the Charlotte Bobcats (11 of their last 12) and even though the game is in North Carolina tonight, they should win.

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