November 29, 2004

Celtics Beat Magic 117-101 to End Skid

ORLANDO, Fla. - Doc Rivers got his team back on track while gaining a measure of revenge on his old squad, and the Boston Celtics snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Orlando Magic 117-101 on Monday night.

The Magic fired Rivers a year ago, after four-plus seasons, when the team stumbled out to a 1-10 start. Rivers, the NBA's coach of the year in 2001, had a 171-168 record with three trips to the playoffs.

Paul Pierce scored 24 points, leading seven players in double figures, as the Celtics enjoyed their best offensive performance of the season. Marcus Banks added a season-high 20 off the bench.

Boston shot 47 percent and made 26 of 31 free throws.

Although the game was expected to be filled with emotion - with Rivers being the most charismatic coach in franchise history - the Celtics came out gunning to put the Magic away early.

Boston went ahead by 10 midway through the first quarter, by 20 early in the second and the margin reached 27 with 5:37 left before the break.

The Magic cut the deficit to 12 points early in the fourth quarter, but the Celtics sealed the win behind an 11-2 run. Banks' three-point play with 6:23 remaining put Boston up 105-84, and sent the fans fleeing to the parking lot.

The Celtics' victory also snapped Rivers' personal 11-game losing streak in Orlando, a skid that included the 2003 playoffs and 2003 preseason.

For the Magic, Hedo Turkoglu scored 17 points. Kelvin Cato had his first double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, both season bests, while Dwight Howard had his fourth with 10 and 10.

Steve Francis and Grant Hill, who entered the game combining for better than 40 points, collectively shot 10-of-30 for 25.

Francis missed 11 of 16 shots for 14 points and turned the ball over five times, then fouled out early in the fourth quarter. Hill had six assists to go with his 11 points

The Magic shot 39 percent, 1-for-12 on 3-pointers.

Early on, the Magic played like the squad that got Rivers fired.

Orlando's toothless defense let Boston drive uncontested to the basket, leading to 11 dunks and layups in the first quarter. Pierce's fast-break follow dunk capped off a 26-8 run for a 15-point lead with 3:44 left in the period.

Meanwhile, the Magic couldn't make baskets from near or far - but mostly near. Orlando's initial possession was a bad omen, as Kelvin Cato missed an alley-oop layin and Dwight Howard blew two follow tip-ins before Hill sank a jumper.

Orlando missed 23 of its first 32 shots.

Then Boston began sinking almost every shot, no matter how off-balance, wild or well defended. Marcus Banks' flailing layup with 8:12 before the break was the Celtics' 22nd field goal in 33 attempts, and put them up 49-29.

The Celtics briefly led 60-33, settling for a halftime advantage of 69-45.

Notes:@ Rivers evened his career record at 176-176. ... Boston has beaten Orlando 10 of the last 14 times. ... Orlando guard Cuttino Mobley missed his ninth straight game with a strained groin, but hopes to return by the time the Magic begin a West Coast trip Dec. 6 ... Orlando forward Pat Garrity sprained his left foot in the second quarter and didn't return. He was scoreless in seven minutes. ... Before the game, the Celtics announced guard Delonte West is out indefinitely after breaking his right hand the night before in Miami. Rivers said the team would hold off making a roster move until at least Tuesday.