Celtics 117, Magic 96
Blount had the Celtics’ first 20-20 game in a decade, picking up career highs of 28 points and 21 rebounds on Monday night, and Boston scored the first 25 points of the fourth quarter to beat the Orlando Magic 117-96.
“Mark’s stat line—your eyes pop when you see it,” Celtics coach John Carroll said.
The Celtics won their third consecutive game and just their fourth under Carroll, who took over when Jim O’Brien resigned on Jan. 27. The win moved them into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Paul Pierce scored 25 points with nine assists, Brandon Hunter had seven points and 12 rebounds, and Chucky Atkins had 17 points and nine assists for Boston. Blount had his fifth consecutive double-double and the best game of his career, but seemed unimpressed by it.
“I’m blue collar,” he said. “It just shows that you just keep working hard and things will happen.”
His teammates were more enthusiastic.
“In order for us to make the playoffs, he’s going to have to have nights like this,” Atkins said of Blount. “If he continues to have games like this, we’re definitely going to make the playoffs.”
Tracy McGrady, the NBA’s leading scorer, had 29 points on 11-for-28 shooting after playing just two minutes in the first quarter because of foul trouble. He passed Shaquille O’Neal to move into second place on the Magic’s all-time scoring list with 8,025 points, behind only Nick Anderson, who scored 10,650.
Tyronn Lue had 14 points and 11 assists for the Magic, which had won five of the last seven since an eight-game losing streak.
Orlando was within 87-82 when Steven Hunter scored on a putback dunk at the third-quarter buzzer. That sent the officials to the videotape before they confirmed it came before time expired.
Boston made it 112-82 before Drew Gooden hit two free throws with 4:19 left in the game.
“We were scoring, they were scoring, we were scoring, they were scoring. Then we stopped scoring and they kept scoring,” Lue said. “We weren’t able to stop them.”
That’s when Blount came out. The victory in hand, the crowd cheered on its way out of the building.
Ed Pinckney had 21 points and 22 rebounds for Boston against the Milwaukee Bucks on April 19, 1994.
Keith Bogans hit a jumper with 3:47 left for Orlando’s first basket of the fourth quarter, snapping an 0-for-14 shooting slump by the Magic.
McGrady, who came into the game with a 27.6 point average, landed on a defender’s foot in the third quarter against the Hawks on Saturday night and began limping. He was in obvious pain when he returned for a few minutes in the fourth quarter.
McGrady started Monday, but played sparingly in the first quarter after picking up two fouls in two minutes. He showed no ill effects from the anklethe rest of the game.
^Notes: Ricky Davis made back-to-back thunderous dunks in the second quarter to energize the crowd. The first was on an alley-oop from Atkins and the next was on the rebound of a missed layup. … The Celtics have won as many as three in a row just twice this season. … Since a 19-game losing streak dropped the Magic to 1-19, they have gone 16-26. … Blount’s previous highs were 22 points against the Knicks on Jan. 30, and 14 rebounds against Washington on Jan. 23.