Doc's take: Magic played hard

November, 25, 2012
11/25/12
11:55
PM ET
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty ImagesKevin Garnett plays tough coverage on Glen Davis during Sunday's game.
Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers called a timeout just 63 seconds into the second half of Sunday's overtime win over the Orlando Magic. Boston owned a 10-point lead coming out of intermission, but two turnovers and an Orlando 3-pointer left Rivers uneasy about where the game was headed.

"I could see it right away, but I couldn't turn it around," Rivers told reporters after the game. "I called timeout at [10:57 remaining]. I could see it, but just because I can see it doesn’t mean it’s relayed or it goes through. I don’t think [Celtics players] believed it; I think they did by the fourth quarter."

Rivers said the Magic played hard throughout the night, while a comfortable lead at halftime left his squad taking its foot off the accelerator. The Magic went on to shoot 76.5 percent (13-of-17) in the third quarter and outscored Boston 34-22 while surging ahead.

"I thought, throughout the game, [the Magic] never changed the way they played. They just played hard," Rivers said. "And, in the first half, we competed; in the third quarter, we let our guard down. Then to me, once you activate a team, and they thought they had a chance to win, then it was anybody’s game."

The Celtics found themselves down six with less than five minutes to go and needed a little rally of their own to force the extra session, where a couple of Rajon Rondo layups helped Boston pull away.

"Overall, I thought we didn’t play very well," Rivers said. "I thought [the Magic] played great, they played hard. ... If you don’t [play] hard basketball, you’re not going to win [against Orlando], whether you have more talent or not. I thought that was a good lesson for our guys. We turned it around, I thought our execution won the game for us, and it should honestly."

A few more of Rivers' thoughts after Sunday's win, including his take on Jeff Green's poor shooting night, Rondo's assist streak and Boston's team defense:

* Coming off an emotional 17-point outburst versus his former team, Jeff Green went 0-for-9 shooting from the floor with one point, one assist, one block and two rebounds over 20:05 on Sunday. Rivers downplayed the poor stat line.

"I thought Jeff played great, he just didn’t score," Rivers said. "He blocked shots, rebounded -- just played a good floor game for us. He just missed some makeable shots, but you can’t do anything about that."

* Rivers suggested he was unaware that Rondo had tied John Stockton's mark of 37 consecutive games with double-digit assists. The two point guards are tied for the second longest streak in NBA history, with Rondo eyeing Magic Johnson's record mark of 46 games.

"Listen, I want him to get the record, it’d be great. But I can tell you, when you just said [he tied Stockton], I actually thought he had already passed him," Rivers said. "That tells you how much I’m paying attention to that. It is a record out there, and he should go after it. But he should just keep playing. Rondo should get 10 assists every night, he really should. Just by the way he plays. And that’s what he’s doing."

* Asked to assess Boston's defense so far this season, Rivers replied, "Up and down. Oklahoma, they scored 100, but when you hold Oklahoma to 100 points, you feel like you had a great defensive night. That’s where we are at. Offensively we’ve been terrific; defensively we have to get better."

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9