Rapid Reaction: Celtics 97, Magic 84
THE NITTY GRITTY
Paul Pierce flirted with a triple-double (14 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists), while Kevin Garnett added 14 points and 10 rebounds), but it was a bench effort that featured Jeff Green (team-high 17 points, plus-20 in plus/minus), Jason Terry (12 points, plus-23) and Leandro Barbosa (12 points, plus-21) that helped the Celtics race away in the second half. The Celtics limited Orlando to 37.6 percent shooting (35-of-93 overall). The Magic were paced by 15 points from J.J. Redick, while Nikola Vucevic (14 points, 14 rebounds) and Andrew Nicholson (14 points, 10 rebounds) added double-doubles for Orlando. Old friend E'Twaun Moore finished with 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting over 24:21 in his first game back in Boston.
In a one-possession game with five minutes to play in the third quarter, the Celtics closed out the frame on a 15-5 burst to carry a 13-point lead into the final frame. Boston soon pushed its lead as high as 23 with 7:39 remaining. Over that span, the Celtics outscored the Magic 29-12 with Barbosa and Green chipping in eight points apiece (Green and Terry were plus-20 during the stretch). Boston was 13-of-19 shooting (68.4 percent) during the run, while the Magic were 5-of-21 (23.8 percent).
A FAB DEBUT
Celtics rookie center Fab Melo made his NBA debut with the Celtics up 92-77 with 2:38 to play. On his first trip down the floor, Melo barely missed chasing down an offensive rebound, then got beat for a bunny by Kyle O'Quinn. Fans might not have gotten to see Gino dance on the JumboTron, but they got Fab instead.
WHAT IT MEANS
Boston (23-23) has now won three in a row to move back to .500. While the Magic offered little resistance, it's still a quality win for Boston after Jared Sullinger underwent season-ending back surgery on Friday afternoon. The Celtics again got varied contributions, with multiple players picking up the slack for injured Rondo and Sullinger. The Celtics wrap up a four-game homestand by hosting the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon.
Play Podcast ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg gives his take on the breakdown of talks between the Celtics and Clippers, talks about the chances Doc Rivers will be back with the Celtics and discusses how Rivers would be received by Celtics fans.
Play Podcast Ryen Russillo and Danny Kanell discuss the Clippers walking away from a potential deal with the Celtics, what this means for Doc Rivers and much more.