Final

Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 5)

Series starts 12/2

Game 1: Monday, December 2nd
Celtics102Final
Magic97
Game 2: Monday, December 9th
Magic109Final
OT
Celtics114
Game 3: Saturday, December 28th
Celtics95Final
Magic101
Game 4: Sunday, January 26th
Magic83Final
Celtics91
Game 5: Saturday, April 12th
Celtics86Final
Magic89

Magic 83

(23-23, 10-14 away)

Celtics 91

(26-18, 16-8 home)

    1:00 PM ET, January 26, 2003

    TD Garden, Boston, MA

    1 2 3 4 T
    ORL 15 17 24 2783
    BOS 21 21 17 3291

    Top Performers

    Orlando: J. Sasser 26 Pts, 10 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Stl

    Boston: P. Pierce 27 Pts, 13 Reb, 13 Ast, 3 Stl

    Magic can't overcome McGrady's absence

    BOSTON (AP) -- Paul Pierce was relieved to learn just before Sunday's game that NBA scoring leader Tracy McGrady wouldn't play for Orlando. He was even happier after the first triple-double of his career.

    Paul Pierce
    Pierce

    "I'll take it,'' Pierce said of McGrady's absence. "Who wants the leading scorer playing?''

    Pierce had 27 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 13 assists as the Boston Celtics beat the Magic 91-83.

    McGrady missed the game to be with his fiancee, who gave birth to a daughter Saturday night in an Orlando-area hospital. Jeryl Sasser started in his place and had a career-high 26 points with 10 rebounds and four steals.

    "We hung in there and kept the game at our pace,'' Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. "I don't think Pierce ever worked so hard for his points.''

    He had to since the Magic didn't have to worry about guarding Antoine Walker, who missed his third straight game with a sprained right knee. Boston has won two of them and six of its last seven.

    "I just took it upon myself to really elevate my game,'' Pierce said. "I haven't had 13 assists since high school.''

    Orlando made a late run, cutting the margin to 85-81 on Sasser's 3-pointer with 1:09 to go. Pierce then hit two free throws, but Pat Garrity made a basket for the Magic.

    J.R. Bremer hit two free throws for Boston, but Orlando still had a chance until Mike Miller missed an 18-footer with 30 seconds left and Jacque Vaughn failed on a layup attempt with 23 seconds to go. Pierce then hit two free throws for the game's final points.

    Orlando's starting forwards shot very poorly with Miller going 2-of-18 and Garrity 2-of-12.

    "Sometimes that's what happens when you miss a few that you know are really contested,'' Garrity said. "Open ones are even that much harder to make.''

    Orlando cut a 57-46 deficit to 59-58 with 10:41 left in the game. Pierce then hit two free throws for a three-point lead.

    That's when Walter McCarty took over. Scoreless to that point, he hit Boston's next three baskets, all 3-pointers, for a 70-61 lead. The last two came 39 seconds apart.

    "I don't know if we get this game without those two shots,'' Boston coach Jim O'Brien said. "We were kind of on the ropes.''

    Tony Battie had 12 points and McCarty 11 for Boston. Orlando got 12 from Darrell Armstrong and 11 from Miller.

    And none from McGrady.

    "We felt even without him we had a chance to win because we've got a lot of scorers on this team,'' Sasser said.

    The Celtics led 42-32 at halftime, continuing their excellent first-half defense. In their previous game Friday night, Pierce scored 45 points. Boston led Denver 44-29 at halftime as Pierce nearly outscored the Nuggets with 28 points.

    "This was more impressive than in his 45-point game,'' O'Brien said. "I'm very pleased with the leadership he's given us the past couple of games.''

    Boston stretched its lead to 50-36 with 9:18 left in the third quarter on consecutive baskets by Eric Williams and Battie.

    It was 57-46 before Sasser led a 10-2 surge with six points as Orlando cut the lead to 59-56 with one quarter left.

    Game notes


    Boston's Tony Delk missed the game with a sprained left ankle. ... The only other Celtics with triple doubles are Walker, Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Kevin Gamble. ... McGrady has scored at least 30 points in each of his last five games. ... Orlando outrebounded Boston 45-30. ... Pierce has 13 double-doubles this season, four fewer than the career high he set last season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    ORL
    BOS
    Points 83 91
    FGM-FGA 30-82 (.366) 35-66 (.530)
    3PM-3PA 7-23 (.304) 5-17 (.294)
    FTM-FTA 16-20 (.800) 16-21 (.762)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 19-45 2-30
    Assists 20 27
    Turnovers 19 19
    Steals 8 7
    Blocks 2 3
    Fast Break Points 2 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (0/0) 21 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Orlando
    Boston
    Jeryl Sasser Sasser
    Points: 26
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0
    Paul Pierce Pierce
    Points: 27
    Reb: 13
    Ast: 13
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0