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Friday, February 1, 2013

Celtics Win Their Third Straight Game Since Rondo Got Hurt, 97-84 Over Magic

The Celtics couldn't have picked two better teams to adjust to life without Rajon Rondo than bottom feeders Sacramento and Orlando. Tonight, Boston (23-23, 16-9 home) rolled to a 97-84 win over the Magic (14-32, 6-16 away) at TD Garden. Apparently the C's have won three straight games since Rondo went down (he was a last minute scratch against Miami on Sunday) although I'm not sure if beating Orlando at this juncture should count as a full victory.

Jeff Green led the Celts with 17 points and three blocks off the bench. More please! Kevin Garnett (14 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Paul Pierce (14 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists) each had double-doubles while Courtney Lee added 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Isn't it amazing what happens when a team shares the basketball, rather than let one guy do everything offensively? Jason Terry (5 assists) and Leandro Barbosa both tossed in 12 points off the bench.

Everybody in the NBA has injuries but it's hard to imagine a team more rocked by them than the Magic: their top three players (and three of their top four scorers) all missed at least part of tonight's exhibition. Glen Davis is out for the season with a broken foot, Arron Afflalo has a strained calf so he sat out then Jameer Nelson left with an arm injury in the first half and never returned.

Oy vey, it's all up to you J.J. Redick (15 points, 5 assists, 2 steals). To say he doesn't currently have much help around him would be too kind: rookie Andrew Nicholson (14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Nikola Vucevic (14 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks) had double-doubles. Former Celtic E'Twaun Moore filled it up in garbage time, finishing with 14 points while rookie Kyle O'Quinn notched 11 points.

Boston held Orlando to 35 points in the first half and 37.9% shooting from the field for the entire game. The Celtics had 11 more assists than the Magic (30-19) because true point guards are overrated.

Things figure to get much more exciting on Sunday (1 p.m., CSN) as the Clippers (34-14, 1st in Pacific Division) come to the Garden in a tasty pre-Super Bowl appetizer. MVP candidate Chris Paul has missed LA's last six games with a knee injury and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that they are not nearly the same team without him, for example: they suffered a season-worst 98-73 loss in Toronto tonight. Yes Toronto. Like the Kings earlier this week, the C's will be looking for more revenge after the Clippers embarrassed them 106-77 on December 27 in LA during the California road trip from hell.

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