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Pierce hits the key shot in Celtics' OT victory

The SportsXchange

ORLANDO - Paul Pierce missed a potential game-winning shot in regulation, but he didn't miss in overtime, hitting the key three-pointer that propelled the Boston Celtics to a 116-110 victory over the Orlando Magic Sunday night.

Pierce, the 10-time All-Star, scored 23 points and hit the only shot he took in the extra period with 2:10 remaining, igniting a final charge and giving the Celtics a lead they never lost.

Kevin Garnett led everyone with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Point guard Rajon Rondo had 15 points, 16 assists and nine rebounds.

"There was a sense of urgency in the overtime period that wasn't there earlier," Pierce said. "And anytime I see a little daylight, I'm going to take the shot. Tonight was about finding a way to grind it out. And we did."

The Magic (5-8) were led by reserve J.J. Redick with 21 points and point guard Jameer Nelson with 20. Magic reserve Josh McRoberts had a career-high 14 rebounds and three blocked shots.

The Celtics (8-6) dominated much of the game, lost their way late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, then recovered nicely by leaning on a veteran cast to win their second consecutive game.

"Overall, I didn't think we played very well," said Celtics Coach Doc Rivers. "And they (Magic) played hard the whole way. It was a good lesson for us. Execution (down the stretch) won the game for us. And it should. We're a veteran team."

After Pierce hit his three-pointer for the 111-108 lead, the Celtics clamped down defensively while getting big scores from Rondo and Garnett. The Magic, who played well in the fourth, hit only 3 of 13 shots in overtime. They missed their final four shots.

"We can't give teams second chances," said Magic forward Glen Davis, who had 15 points and seven rebounds. "We need to finish the game, and we didn't. At a time when the leader should step up, I was nowhere to be found."

Pierce had 11 points in the third period, but he failed to score in the fourth, missing at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime at 102-102. The Celtics worked for the final shot after taking an inbounds pass with 19 seconds remaining, letting Pierce wind down the clock before missing an 18-foot jumper.

Garnett scored the Celtics final six points in regulation, but he never touched the ball for the final shot in the fourth. Celtics reserve Jared Sullinger had six offensive rebounds, which was key to their 21 second-chance points.

The Celtics got the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter, 98-97, on a basket by Garnett with 3:11 remaining. The Magic had led 87-80 after scoring the first five points of the fourth quarter, including Nelson's third three--pointer.

The Magic led 82-80 going into the final period. Nelson sparked Orlando in the closing minutes of the third period by scoring eight consecutive points, giving the Magic their first lead since early in the game.

Nelson, who had a quiet first half, completed a three-point play that drew the fourth foul against Rondo, hit a three-point shot, and then made a short floater just before the period ended.

Rondo reached double-digit assists for the 37th consecutive game, matching John Stockton for second-longest such streak in history. Rondo got his 10th assist Sunday less than three minutes into the second half when a nifty pass led to a wide-open three-pointer by Pierce. Pierce had 11 points in the third.

The Celtics led 58-48 at halftime, getting another well-rounded start from Rondo. The All-Star point guard had 10 points, nine assists and five rebounds before the break.

Boston reserve Leandro Barbosa, who was scoreless in the previous game against Oklahoma City, had 11 points in just four first-half minutes.

The Celtics controlled the first half, leading by as many as 12 points in the second quarter. The Magic struggled with nine turnovers and led only once in the half.

NOTES: The accolades keep coming for Rondo, whose streak of 37 consecutive games with 10 or more assists trails only a 46-game run by Magic Johnson. "That's a list a lot of players would like to be on," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ... Magic forward Davis has gone from being a role player in Boston to being a team captain in Orlando, and he makes no secret of wanting to show his old teammates how he has blossomed to become a leader. "It will always mean something special to play against the Celtics," Davis said. ... Davis made an interesting comparison between the coaching styles of Rivers and Vaughn. "Doc is more of a military-minded type of guy. Jacque is more of a Gandhi type of guy, soft but powerful. Doc is more of a get-the-job-done person. Jacque is more of a coach who will ask you, 'What'll make you feel comfortable to get the job done?'" ... Vaughn once played for Rivers, who started his coaching career with the Magic. Vaughn was on Orlando's roster for the 2002-03 season. Vaughn also was a college teammate at Kansas with Pierce. ... The Magic are one of just two NBA teams that have six or more players averaging at least 10 points. Portland is the other.
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