Magic 87, Celtics 79
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—Grant Hill can’t play every game these days, but it takes more than a couple on the bench to make him rusty.
After missing three games with a sore left foot, Hill scored 21 points to lead the Orlando Magic over the Boston Celtics 87-79 on Sunday night. Dwight Howard had 18 points and 12 rebounds to help Orlando win its fourth straight.
“I’ve been around long enough and I know what I need to do,” said Hill, playing in his 13th season. “In the case of missing a week, my legs weren’t really all there and I felt a little sluggish, but I just need to get a practice under me where I can fine-tune a little bit.”
The teams combined for an awful night of ball-handling and even worse shooting. They had 40 total turnovers (23 for Orlando, 17 for Boston), while the Magic shot 37.5 percent from the field compared with Boston’s 31.5 percent.
Carlos Arroyo fouled West on a 3-point attempt with 5:46 left, then got a technical arguing the call. West made three of the four shots, but the Celtics were still down 76-67.
Five players scored during an 8-2 Magic run over a 2:17 span in the fourth quarter that gave them a 75-62 lead with 6:51 left. Boston never led in the game.
“You’re going to have games where it’s not going to be so pretty,” said Magic guard Jameer Nelson, who had six points on 3-of-13 shooting.
Orlando starts a four-game road trip Wednesday at Golden State.
The Celtics played their eighth straight game without Paul Pierce, who is resting a sore left foot, and have won just two of their last 10.
“We as a team, we understand that we dug ourselves in,” Allen said. “In the first half we were flat. We have to go look at film, take constructive criticism, see what you can do to correct it.”
Orlando went almost 2:30 without a point at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but still had a 67-60 lead when Arroyo hit the second of two free throws. It followed an exchange in which the Magic turned the ball over twice in 3 seconds. Allen stole the ball but lost it out of bounds on the fast break, and then Orlando threw it away again on the inbounds.
The Magic took a 54-38 lead into halftime despite going 4:17 in the second quarter without a field goal. The Celtics were called for 10 fouls in the period, sending Orlando to the free throw line 19 times. Hill hit six of those free throws in a 15-5 run near the end of the quarter.
“The second half was more like the Celtic team and the first half was the worst effort I’ve seen from us this entire year,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “I told our guys that I’ve never been more disappointed in a team in one half than our first half tonight.”
Allen was slow to get up after taking a flagrant foul from Darko Milicic with 3:26 left in the fourth quarter. Milicic swung an elbow and Allen came up clutching his chest, but the Celtics guard finished the game. … Orlando is now 1-2 on Sundays, while Boston is 0-1. … The Magic were 1-for-5 from 3-point range, and the Celtics shot 4-for-18.