Orlando (17-44) at Boston (25-36)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Boston, MA
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Mon Mar 1, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Paul Pierce knows the Boston Celtics can still make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. He will do all he can to get them there.

Pierce and the Celtics will try to move one step closer to that goal when they meet the Orlando Magic at the FleetCenter.

Boston is currently tied with Cleveland for ninth place in the East, a half-game behind Miami for the final postseason berth.

“It would mean everything to make the playoffs,” Pierce said. “We’ve been written off by everybody, especially after all the trades and when our coach stepped down. It would be like redemption.”

The Celtics have won two straight following a stretch in which they dropped 13 of 14. Pierce, who scored 22 points in Sunday’s 91-82 win over Toronto, said they are starting to feel better about themselves.

“We finally have our confidence after a couple of wins,” Pierce said.

The Celtics shot 52.2 percent from the field Sunday while limiting the Raptors to just 38.3 percent. All five Boston starters scored in double figures.

“I don’t think it was pretty,” Boston interim coach John Carroll said. “We were playing extremely poorly, but every time we looked up, we were down by two, down three, down four, so I told our guys that the rule in the NBA is, ‘Win by one.’ ”

The Magic had dropped two straight before topping Atlanta 104-99 on Saturday.

Tracy McGrady, the NBA’s leading scorer, scored 26 of his game-high 30 points before injuring his right ankle in the third quarter. He landed awkwardly on the foot of defender Stephen Jackson after missing a jumper and immediately began favoring his foot.

McGrady re-entered the game three minutes into the fourth quarter but shot just 1-of-3 from the field in the final period.

“I put up the numbers and try to get the win,” McGrady said. “That’s motivation enough for me. That’s my job.”

Tyronn Lue added 19 points and helped pick up the slack when McGrady was struggling in the fourth quarter.

“He’s going to take over the game early,” Lue said. “He knows he’s going to get his points. Without him, we came out jumping.”

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