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Celtics smother Magic 92-88, take 1-0 series lead 19

Posted: May 17, 2010, 2:26 PM ; Updated: May 21, 2010, 3:52 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The hair is a little grayer. The ankles and knees no longer so sturdy. Even with a roster full of aging superstars, the Boston Celtics are still standing tall.

Too old to chase a title? Not these days.

Ray Allen scored 25 points, Paul Pierce had 22 and the Celtics used smothering defense to beat the Orlando Magic 92-88 on Sunday in the Eastern Conference finals opener.

Hampered by injuries, the Celtics literally limped their way through parts of the regular season. All that seems a distant memory now.

" I honestly say we lost ourselves,'' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. " I think we've found ourselves again."

Rasheed Wallace added 13 points as the Celtics built a 20-point lead, then held on late to snap Orlando's 14-game winning streak. They held the Magic to 41 percent shooting - 22 percent from 3-point range - in displaying that rough and tough defense that was once their staple.

" There were stretches in the season, we know each other so well now, where we were becoming less patient with each other,'' Allen said. " We were getting on each other a little too much. We can take it, but we respected each other.

" When we started the playoffs, we said teams are going to hit us, they're going to attack us. But when somebody scores on us, which they will, we go get the ball out and come back."

Vince Carter had 23 points and Jameer Nelson finished with 20 for Orlando, which cut the lead to two in the final seconds but simply ran out of time, looking rusty after a six-day layoff. Dwight Howard was limited to 13 points and 12 rebounds, nowhere near the dominant force the Magic need to win a title.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Orlando.

" I don't think it was rusty. Just anxious,'' Howard said. " We dug ourselves a hole, and it was tough to get back from."

Two years removed from an NBA title, the revived Celtics might be a little slower than their paralyzing defense of old. But, healthy again, maybe not as much as some once thought.

The Celtics built a 15-point lead in the second quarter and watched it fizzle with Howard on the bench. Backup Marcin Gortat had two layups and a dunk to help the Magic end the half with Boston ahead 41-32.

Nelson had two quick 3-pointers and another jumper to start the third, moving the Magic within three points. Then it all unraveled.

The Celtics went on a 22-5 run later in the quarter to go ahead 65-45, and a crowd littered with blue and white T-shirts - deafening at times with noise clickers and claps - was silenced. But the Magic rallied late to cut the lead to three with 26 seconds remaining in the fourth on a dunk by Howard.

After Pierce made two free throws, Carter was fouled driving to the hoop. He made the first, then missed the second intentionally as Nelson swooped in for the tip to make it 90-88. But Allen followed with two free throws with 6.1 seconds left to seal the Celtics' victory.

The Magic's run simply ran out of time, even if the Celtics seem to be turning back the clock.

Showing no signs of age, the Celtics outhustled and outmuscled the Magic at every step defensively. They pushed and pulled their way around the paint, slowing Howard for most of the game.

That bruising Boston basketball frustrated the Magic and their Superman, emotions pouring out all over the court. Howard and Wallace got tangled up in the third - one of many times in this one - and were whistled for double technicals after swinging their arms away.

The Magic lost for the first time since April 2 at San Antonio.

" Our guys aren't going to like fall apart,'' Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. " They got down 20 in this game and they didn't collapse. That's not our team. This is all about winning. Our team doesn't have to prove they can bounce back from adversity and all of that. They've done all that."

The sweat pouring from their faces, Kevin Garnett and Co. stifled the Magic as well as anyone in these playoffs, holding them to 32 points in the opening half. A Celtics team that downed LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the last round seems as rejuvenated as ever, ready to give the Magic - who swept through the first two rounds - their toughest test yet.

" I think it was a wake-up call that we really needed,'' Carter said. " Now it's what are we going to do about it? How do we respond?"

NOTES: Rivers can sleep in his own bed no matter where the games are played in this series. Rivers, a former Magic coach who makes his permanent home in the Orlando area, said he's had plenty of phone calls and messages the last few days - many from friends who are local Magic fans. " Some of my friends right now are wavering on their support of the Celtics," Rivers said, chuckling. ... The only time the Magic had fewer points at the half this season came against Boston on Christmas, when Orlando was held to 27. ... Utah Jazz F Carlos Boozer and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris were among those in attendance.

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19 Comments

noiw its a 2-0 series lead...

that picture is the wallpaper for my cellphone i love that picture its also the screensaver to my pc lol

omg 2-0 cant believe my favorite team has gotten this far i love the boston cetics cuz they are the best team in the nba!!!! i hope they win saturday nights game cuz if they dont idk what i'll do... probaly die lol

Go Celtics!

AGREED!!!!!!!

celtics are up 2-0 after last night

The only reason boston beat cleveland is because they hurt LeBron James. Cheaters!!!!!!!!
Want Magic to win championship, Lakers second. Can't wait to see who makes it to championship.
GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MMMMMMAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGIIIIICCCCCC!

no the celtics are not cheaters they would have won with him in the game to who do you think u are to be talking bad about my fave team GO CELTICS!!!!!!!

GGGGGGGGGGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!

Celtics should win series then lose to the Suns. I hope.

Yeah. The Suns R awesome. Stevie is a beast!

celtics should win the series and lose to the suns. i hope ... blah blah blah i'm so sick of readind comments u peeps are all HATERS (whoever talks junk about the celtics only) u guys r all jealous dont hate the team or the players hate the game

there is a cuss word in here.why the heck did they put it in there?

hey wiz, dont you just take it from sportscenter, so sportscneter makes these things and then you copy and paste? cuz ive seen the same thing on the sportscenter site..

WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWW I REPLIED TO THAT AND THEY MUST HAVE FIGURED IT OUT CUZ I PUT THE CUS WORD INTO MY COMMENT THEY DIDNT POST IT I BET THEY WILL DO THE SAME WITH THIS ONE LOL:))))

Sorry BoxingAce502. We took out the bad word now!

thats an AMAZING pic up there!!!! :D

YEAH

what the heck happened my fave team the beltics almost lost... sry i LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE the celtics but the magic should have won that one i was sittin in front of the tv having a heart attack about what was going on and then we win by 5 points what in the world happened there that was the craziest game i've seen all season having to do with catching up and getting back in the lead of the game !!!!!

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