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Celtics 120, Magic 88

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce returned to the lineup and Courtney Lee had 20 points to lead the balanced Boston Celtics to a 120-88 victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.

The Celtics (41-39) had seven players with at least 10 points. They shot 59.3 percent from the field and led from start to finish. The Magic never got closer than 19 points in the second half.

The Celtics have won eight consecutive regular-season games against the Magic (20-60), including all three meetings this season.

Garnett had 14 points and nine rebounds in just 18 minutes. He hit 7 of 8 shots from the field. Pierce had 12 points and eight assists 26 minutes but made only 4 of 12 from the field. Both have been in and out of the lineup recently with nagging ankle injuries.

The Magic were led by Tobias Harris, who had 22 points and six rebounds. Magic center Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 12 rebounds, his 44th double-double this season.

Jeff Green scored 17 points and Jordan Crawford 16 for the Celtics, who finish the regular season with games this week against Indiana and Toronto. The Magic finish with Chicago and Miami.

The outcome never was in doubt. The Celtics scored the first nine points and never were seriously challenged.

Boston led 57-37 at intermission, riding a hot-shooting, balanced start. The Celtics made 24 of 45 from the field (53.3 percent) in the first two quarters with five players scoring at least eight points.

The Magic struggled defensively throughout the game, offering little resistance on repeated drives through the lane.

Pierce and Garnett returned to the lineup after sitting out Friday's loss in Miami.

The Magic started a lineup that included two rookies and two second-year players. The inexperience was obvious on defense.

NOTES: Pierce had missed two of the previous four games with an ankle injury, and Garnett had missed the last two with his own ankle problems. Both, obviously, are resting for the upcoming playoffs. "I'm not looking for any signs out there tonight. They just need to play a game here or there," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. ... Rivers looked pained when he started talking about the injury to Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who tore his Achilles' tendon on Friday night and is expected to need six to nine months before he can play again. "My players are my favorites, but if I had another, it would be Kobe. I just love his heart and toughness. He's as tough a competitor as there is. We're all going to miss him," Rivers said. ... The Magic, with the second-worst record in the league, have been through quite a transformation this season. From the original starting lineup on opening night, only Vucevic is still playing. Arron Afflalo (hamstring), Glen Davis (fractured left foot), Hedo Turkoglu (healthy but benched) and Jameer Nelson (sprained right ankle) are unlikely to see the court in the final two games. ... Rivers started his coaching career in Orlando with the Magic (1999-2000) and won a coach of the year award. His family still lives in central Florida.
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