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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Celtics turn back Magic for 2-0 lead

 •  Wizards win lottery, No. 1 pick in draft

Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Boston forward Paul Pierce drives past Orlando guard Vince Carter during the second half of Game 2 in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

PHELAN M. EBENHACK | Associated Press

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Too slow? Too old?

Try two wins from the NBA finals.

Indeed, the Boston Celtics look like they saved their best this season for when it mattered most.

"I know," Boston's Paul Pierce said. "It's starting to look that way."

Pierce scored 28 points, Rajon Rondo had 25 and the revived Celtics again avoided a late collapse to take a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference finals with a 95-92 victory over the Orlando Magic in Game 2 last night.

Boston bullied and bruised its way to a 2-0 series lead on the road against a Magic team that had won 14 straight until this series.

After being hampered by injuries for much of the season, often showing their age, the Celtics are now just two wins away from their second finals appearance in three seasons.

"I think we are becoming the team that started the season," Rivers said. "The team that started the season was pretty good."

Maybe even good enough to take down the defending conference champion Magic.

Dwight Howard had 30 points, and Vince Carter and J.J. Redick scored 16 apiece for the Magic, who overcame an 11-point deficit to take a brief lead in the fourth quarter. But they couldn't hold it.

Jameer Nelson's desperation 3-point attempt airballed at the buzzer, sending fans to the exits in silence.

"I won't stop believing," Howard said. "And I won't let my teammates stop believing."

Game 3 is Saturday night in Boston.

"Our fans won't let us relax," Pierce said. "We're going to try and close it out in four games."

The Celtics buckled down just enough to hold in this one.

Ahead 11 points early in the fourth quarter, that almost wasn't enough. The Magic, just as they did in Game 1, found their rhythm late.

They went on a 13-4 run to trim Boston's lead to 85-83 with about six minutes left. Carter's jumper with 4:05 remaining gave Orlando a 90-89 lead with 3:35 remaining, and then the Celtics summoned their championship form again.

Kevin Garnett and Rondo made consecutive jumpers, and after Nelson made a layup, Pierce answered with two free throws that put Boston ahead by three.

Carter missed two free throws with 31.9 seconds left that cost Orlando dearly. It must have felt all too familiar to Magic fans who watched Howard's damaging misses at the stripe in Game 4 of the NBA finals last year and Nick Anderson's four bricks in Game 1 of the 1995 finals.

Only another footnote for Boston's remarkable history.

Two years removed from their 17th NBA championship, the Celtics, once thought too old to contend for another title, have found their footing again. After ousting LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team with the league's best record, Boston is showing no signs of stopping.

"Just think our mindset was to be ready for the type of intensity they would bring after losing at home," Pierce said. "We know the Magic are a talented team and we won't take these two wins for granted."

Before the final heave, Redick also made a crucial mistake by dribbling to half court before calling timeout. That wasted seconds and forced the Magic to take the ball out from beyond half court.

The result was a shot that didn't reach the rim.

"It would have made a big difference," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We said in the thing to call a timeout. We didn't make the right play there at the end."

Redick took the blame.

"I made a mistake," he said. "I didn't hear the whistle initially. When I didn't hear it initially, I just kind of went, then I realized we should have called a timeout. So that was my fault."

BOSTON 27 26 25 17—95

ORLANDO 28 23 19 22—92

BOSTON—Pierce 8-16 9-11 28, Garnett 5-16 0-2 10, Perkins 3-5 4-4 10, Rondo 10-16 5-6 25, R.Allen 1-6 2-3 4, Wallace 2-6 0-0 6, Davis 3-4 2-2 8, T.Allen 2-5 0-0 4, Finley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-74 22-28 95.

ORLANDO—Barnes 2-9 1-2 6, Lewis 2-6 0-0 5, Howard 9-13 12-17 30, Nelson 4-12 0-0 9, Carter 5-15 5-7 16, Redick 3-9 8-8 16, Gortat 1-1 0-0 2, J.Williams 1-3 0-0 3, Pietrus 1-3 3-4 5. Totals 28-71 29-38 92.

3-Point Goals—Boston 5-15 (Pierce 3-7, Wallace 2-3, R.Allen 0-5), Orlando 7-18 (Redick 2-3, J.Williams 1-1, Carter 1-2, Lewis 1-3, Barnes 1-3, Nelson 1-5, Pietrus 0-1). Fouled Out—Perkins, Pierce. Rebounds—Boston 47 (Garnett 9), Orlando 51 (Howard 8). Assists—Boston 20 (Rondo 8), Orlando 18 (Nelson, Redick, Lewis 4). Total Fouls—Boston 29, Orlando 25. Technicals—Boston defensive three second, Carter, Orlando defensive three second. Flagrant Fouls—Howard. A—17,461 (17,461).


All times Hawai'i


Sunday, May 16

Boston 92, Orlando 88

Monday, May 17

L.A. Lakers 128, Phoenix 107


Boston 95, Orlando 92

Boston leads series 2-0


Phoenix at L.A. Lakers, 3 p.m.

L.A. Lakers lead series 1-0

Saturday, May 22

Orlando at Boston, 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 23

L.A. Lakers at Phoenix, 2:30 p.m.

Monday, May 24

Orlando at Boston, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, May 25

L.A. Lakers at Phoenix, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, May 26

x-Boston at Orlando, 2:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 27

x-Phoenix at L.A. Lakers, 3 p.m.

Friday, May 28

x-Orlando at Boston, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 29

x-L.A. Lakers at Phoenix, 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 30

x-Boston at Orlando, 2:30 p.m.

Monday, May 31

x-Phoenix at L.A. Lakers, 3 p.m.

x-if necessary