ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Whether Orlando is peaking will only be
known only when the season is over. There's no question the Magic
are playing well.
It was the Magic's third straight win and second comeback
victory in two nights.
"Going into the playoffs, that's what you definitely want to be
doing -- playing great defense as well as playing good on the
defensive end,'' said McGrady, who had 20 points before halftime.
"Things are meshing together. We'll see what happens.''
Added Orlando coach Doc Rivers: "Our team believes right now we
can beat anyone, anywhere, and that's what we're going to have to
have. We're not going to have homecourt (in the playoffs), so we
better have that thought.''
Orlando moved into a tie with the Celtics for sixth place in the
East with two games remaining for both teams. But Boston owns the
tiebreaker thanks to its 3-2 record against the Magic. Both teams
also have slim chances of catching New Orleans for the fifth seed.
"It's important to get as high a seed as possible because I
think in the East it's not out of the possibility that the away
team could win a lot of the series,'' Boston coach Jim O'Brien
said. "You'd hate to finish seventh and then have to look at a
team that got you in sixth some time in the playoffs.''
Boston's Paul Pierce dunked with 1:16 remaining to give Boston
an 86-82 lead. He finished with 25 points and nine rebounds.
But Andrew DeClercq responded with a dunk for the Magic, and
Pierce fumbled away the ball on the ensuing possession. McGrady
drove, then kicked the ball to DeClercq on the right baseline.
DeClercq fired the ball to Darrell Armstrong on the left wing, and
Armstrong swung it to Giricek in the left corner.
"My last shot was nothing,'' Giricek said. "I was open --
everyone can make good shots then.''
Jacque Vaughn's free throws with 12.2 seconds gave Orlando some
breathing room as the Magic scored the game's last seven points.
Pierce missed three shots in the final 28 seconds and Antoine
Walker's 3-pointer at the buzzer was far off the mark as Boston
lost for the fourth time in five games. Walker had 21 points, nine
rebounds and seven assists, while Eric Williams added 16 points and
"We're going to the playoffs, so we have to develop some
momentum,'' said Pierce, who shot 7-for-17. "We've been
struggling, but I think we're playing well.''
McGrady, who shot 12-for-30, scored nine straight points in a
two-minute stretch of the fourth quarter to give Orlando an 80-79
lead. After his 3-pointer with 4:16 remaining cut the Celtics' lead
to a point, Boston called timeout and the sellout crowd broke into
a deafening chant of "M-V-P! M-V-P!''
McGrady also set the team record for points in the season,
finishing with 2,385. Shaquille O'Neal had 2,377 in 1993-94.
Pierce tied a Boston record. He shot 15 free throws, making 11,
to tie his own team record for foul shots attempted in a season of
738 set two years ago.
The Celtics shot 40.5 percent, but missed 20 of 28 3-pointers.
The Celtics need 29 3-pointers in their last two games to break
the NBA record for 3s in a season. The 1995-96 Dallas Mavericks
sank 735. Boston set the record for 3s attempted earlier this
Magic power forward Drew Gooden missed his third straight
game and eighth in the last 12 with a sprained right toe. He might
return Monday night in Atlanta. ... Boston was missing
foward/center Tony Battie (right knee) and Bimbo Coles (ill
mother). ... Boston has lost nine of its last 11 games in Orlando.
... With its win at Indiana on Friday, Orlando clinched its 11th
straight season with a .500 record or better. That run is tied with
Charlotte/New Orleans for the fourth-longest active streak in the
NBA, behind Utah, Seattle and Portland. ... The sellout was
Orlando's sixth of the season.
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