Boston (20-21) at Orlando (9-30)

Fair Currently: Orlando, FL
Temp: 55° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Fri Jan 16, 2004
  • TV: FSNE, SUN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

For the first time in six seasons, the Boston Celtics may be without Paul Pierce for an indefinite amount of time.

Pierce, Boston’s 1998 first-round pick, bruised his hand in a game against Milwaukee on Tuesday night and was ineffective in the Celtics’ 95-80 loss to Houston on Wednesday.

Boston may have to play without its captain and leading scorer when it meets the Orlando Magic at TD Waterhouse Centre.

The injury clearly affected Pierce on Wednesday, as he scored a season-low four points on 1-of-10 shooting. After the game, Pierce revealed he aggravated the injury, a bruise between the middle and index fingers of his left hand.

“It went numb and it was difficult to catch and hold the ball. I’m having X-rays (Thursday) and I hope it’s not seriously injured,” said Pierce, who has missed only 14 games over the last six seasons.

Not only does Pierce lead the team with 23.3 points per game, but he’s the only NBA player to lead his club in points, assists and rebounds.

In the past, the Celtics could make up for Pierce’s absence with former captain Antoine Walker. Without Walker this season, the scoring burden has fallen to Vin Baker and Ricky Davis, both second on the team with 11.6 points per game.

But Baker had not played since Jan. 5, and Davis has been coming off the bench.

The Magic, meanwhile, continue to struggle following a 120-110 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

Tracy McGrady had 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for Orlando, which lost its seventh straight on the road and for the eighth time in nine games overall. The Magic allowed the Knicks to shoot 60 percent from the field.

“We talk about it, we stress it, and we just didn’t get it done defensively,” Magic coach Johnny Davis said. “It’s something we work on and will continue to work on until we get it right.”

STANDINGS (through Jan. 14): Celtics - 2nd place, 3 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division. Magic - 7th place, 13 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Celtics - F Walter McCarty, F Jiri Welsch, C Mark Blount, G Mike James, G Pierce or Davis. Magic - F Keith Bogans, F Juwan Howard, C Andrew DeClercq, G Tyrone Lue, G McGrady.

TEAM LEADERS: Celtics - Pierce, 23.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg and 5.7 apg. Magic - McGrady, 25.7 ppg and 5.8 apg; Drew Gooden, 7.4 rpg.

SEASON SERIES: Celtics, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 7; Celtics, 101-93. At Boston, Pierce had 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and James added 21 points to extend the Magic’s losing streak to six.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Celtics - 10-9 on the road; Magic - 4-14 at home.

INJURIES: Celtics - F Pierce (hand); F Brandon Hunter (Achilles’); F Chris Mills (heel); F Raef LaFrentz (knee). Magic - G Reece Gaines (knee); F Monty Williams (knee); F Pat Garrity (knee); F Britton Johnson (knee); F Grant Hill (ankle).

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Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists