Magic 124, Celtics 118, OT
This has been an erratic season for Gooden. He lost his starting slot early and has been more down than up lately, shooting 34 percent without scoring in double figures since Jan. 6.
But Gooden’s play was consistent against the Celtics. He had 18 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, making all five of his shots—including his second and third 3-pointers of the season.
“I was due,” said Gooden, who shot 12-for-18. “I had a little dry spell for about five games, and I felt like I let my team down during that stretch. Tonight, I told the team that I was going to go out and give it all I had.”
Boston had a brief 115-114 lead but Gooden nailed a 19-foot jumper with 3:27 remaining, sparking an 8-0 run that helped Orlando improve to 3-0 in overtime.
“When he plays like this, he makes us a better basketball team,” Orlando coach Johnny Davis said.
Boston tied it at 111 with 2.3 seconds left in regulation on Walter McCarty’s 3-pointer.
Paul Pierce began the possession by grabbing an offensive rebound on the right sideline off his own missed 3-pointer, then passed to McCarty on the right wing. McCarty pump-faked Gooden out of the way before nailing the tying shot.
“It was like, here we go again,” McGrady said. “You do everything you can to put yourself in a situation to win, and then this guy comes down and knocks the breath right out of you.”
McGrady missed a 3-pointer as time ran out in regulation, but he made up for it with a 3 to open the extra period. He shot 15-of-31, including 5-for-13 on 3-pointers, en route to his fourth 40-point game of the season.
Pierce scored 20 points to lead eight Celtics in double figures, but he shot 7-for-26—including 2-for-10 on 3-pointers.
“The last few games, I have not stepped up like I know I should and I take the blame for not stepping up,” said Pierce, who had two points on 1-for-10 shooting Wednesday. “I don’t get discouraged; I’ve already forgotten about this game.”
Celtics forward Vin Baker played for the first time since he was suspended for failing to comply with the conditions of his aftercare program.
He made his first four shots and finished with 12 points.
“I got off to a good start but I would have loved to have won the game,” Baker said. “My wind felt good. It felt good being back in the mix.”
Added coach Jim O’Brien: “He played well offensively with the rest of the team, but I thought it was a poor effort by the whole team defensively.”
In the fourth quarter and overtime, Orlando scored 45 points on 69.6 percent shooting.
It was the Celtics who ran rampant for most of the game.
Boston shot 57 percent in regulation against a defense that ranks second-to-last in the NBA in points allowed and shooting. The Celtics had 40 points in the paint, mostly on unchallenged dunks and layups, while shooting 9-for-17 on 3-pointers.
Banks took advantage of the weak defense late in the third quarter. On successive possessions, he drove the lane for a layup, hit a short jumper and dunked on a fast break. Jiri Welsch’s breakaway layup put the Celtics ahead 86-79.
In overtime, though, Boston missed seven of 10 shots while being outrebounded 8-1.
“We played defense a little bit,” McGrady said. “We did a phenomenal job on Paul Pierce—got to credit that to Keith Bogans—and our big guys helped us out as well. We got some big stops when we really needed them.”
McGrady’s dunk off an alley-oop pass from Tyronn Lue tied it at 103 with 2:35 remaining. Lue matched his career high with 11 assists.
Boston went ahead 106-103 on Pierce’s 3-pointer with 1:46 left, but McGrady sank a 3 on the next possession. Forty seconds later, Gooden hit his second 3 to give Orlando a brief three-point lead.
“I think the Boston guys were playing me as a low-post player and really didn’t credit me for my outside shot,” said Gooden, now 3-for-10 on 3-pointersthis season.
The Magic signed forward Lee Nailon to a second 10-day contract after he averaged 7.3 points and three rebounds in four games. He signed his first 10-day deal Jan. 5. Against the Celtics, he was scoreless in eight minutes. …The Celtics had won eight of their last 11 games against Orlando.