Celtics vs. Orlando Magic  Monday, Dec 9, 2002  7:00pm
First, Congratulations to Paul Pierce for his selection as Eastern Conference Player of the week!!

This game took place exactly one week after the Good Guys beat the Magic in Orlando 102-97.  The Celtics were rested after last playing at the "Centah" on Friday, while the Magic were in the midst of a tough road trip.

I hoped that the C's would come out running and keep running until the Magic had left the frozen parquet.  I heard temps were in the single digits at game time, and that probably doesn't improve much when there's a sheet of ice under the court.
 
 

First Quarter:

The game started slowly, as neither team seemed capable of scoring at first.  The C's played good defense and got good looks on offense, but just couldn't finish.  The first points came with 2:10 gone in the quarter, from Orlando.  The Celtics didn't score until over 3:09 had gone by on a steal from Pierce, who went all the way for a dunk.  At this point, the C's were 1-7, and the Magic 2-6, from the field.  I was really annoyed, because if the C's go scoreless for three minutes against a number of teams, the game is pretty well over.  Lucky it was Orlando.

Walker established his outside game early, but I noticed that the C's offense was sluggish--players weren't helping out on offense, and the Magic were quickly outrebounding the Good Guys on both ends of the court.

Walker hit Battie for what might be the first successful alley-oop in weeks.  If they could pull that play consistently, Battie would be among the league leaders in scoring.

After the opening drought, fortunately shared by both teams, the scoring picked up as Pierce and Delk both started hitting shots.  but with 5:54 to go, an offensive set perfectly illustrated one of the problems the C's had tonight.

Pierce had stolen the ball and was on the break from the corner  just inside the arc.  At the time the steal was made, Waltah! and Walker were on the same side of the court--Walker at the free throw line, and Waltah! just past it toward the corner.  Pierce started running, and was just past the arc line going up, and had already passed Walker, who was now behind him on his left.  Pierce went right over center court, and Waltah!, though ahead of him, had gone down the sideline, where three Magic players were already between him and Pierce.  Pierce had to take it into a double team, since one player had dropped off to cover Walker, who had trotted to just outside the arc, directly behind his man.  Waltah! was blocked off by the double team, and never came up to give Pierce an option to pass out of the team.  He did not have his hands up to receive a pass--assuming Pierce could have somehow managed to make one.  Pierce ended up going to the line, instead of having an even three on three break--or better, if Walker or Waltah! had run faster and smarter.

This sort of thing happened a couple of times, leaving the player with the ball absolutely no options after starting a break.

Pierce then proceeded to go one for two at the line.  (AAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!)  The Celtics, throughout this game, went to the line early and often.  The Magic liked their chances on the fouls, as the C's were shooting 45-50% through the game at the line.  I was really concerned that this game might come down to free throws.

The rest of the quarter was close, with neither team really able to establish a lead and hold it.  The Magic were keeping it close by boxing out Tony Battie and getting a lot of rebounds.  Battie just didn't seem to have his normal zip.  I think the Magic made it a point to nudge Battie away from the boards.  This nudging would later cause problems.

Mike Miller of Orlando was hitting well from beyond the arc--better, in fact, than the Celtics as a team.

The quarter ended as Walker stole the ball when Orlando was trying for a last shot, and the lead was now 26-21, favoring the Magic.

The Magic had made the most of their chances, hitting 48% from the field on 10-21 shooting, while the Celtics were a measly 38%, going 9-24.  Orlando outdid Boston on the boards, 14-9, and were, courtesy of Mike Miller, 3-3 from the arc, while the Celtics as a team were 1-5.  There were only two pieces of good news.  First, the Magic had already committed 6 turnovers to Boston's 1.  The second was that the C's only trailed by 5 points after playing mediocre basketball.
 

Second Quarter:

The second quarter started with Boston doubling it's turnovers, while Orlando went to the hoop and drew a foul.  You'd think they'd remember it's supposed to be the other way around.

Orlando's Andrew DeClercq (a former Celtics player) went to the line and hit one of two, so maybe it was a Celtics thing at the line.  But DeClercq drew several charges during the game and played solid defense.  Eric Williams needs to learn to hit the brakes when he sees the defender in his way.

Vin Baker came in and had a solid game, making some really nice moves under the hoop at both ends.  He also started getting a few foul calls his way, which was a very good sign.  One of them was against DeClercq, forcing Andrew to sit with three fouls.

Tracy McGrady seemed to be fully recovered from the ankle injury he got the last time he faced the Good Guys and was scoring from a variety of places on the floor.

The C's defense picked up more, but the Magic were still hitting, particularly Mike Miller, who sank yet another three.

With 5:18 to go in the half, Waltah! scored a three from the corner off good ball movement to give the Good Guys the lead again at 37-36.  I platonically appreciate him.  That capped an 8-0 run by Boston.

After a few possessions ending in turnovers or misses for both teams, the Magic regained the lead a minute later.  Orlando worked to extend it from there., but Paul Pierce had a few things to say about that, going in for two more.

Battie had been called for two relatively quick fouls, and he was starting to look a little annoyed, in concert with his frustration at a team that actually paid attention to him under the hoop.  Maybe he was getting a little spoiled with the relative ease with which he'd been going to the boards at both ends.

Vin Baker came back in and he seemed to have better luck wedging himself into position against the Magic.  He still got called for physical fouls, the kind he gets from those unsubtle bumps he makes.  He swivels his hips like he's trying to get a date.

Tony Delk came in and added to the scoring by hitting a three, and Pierce felt obligated to match it, which he did with 22.1 seconds left.

Orlando once again tried for the last shot of the quarter, and this time, got off a shot clock three to end the quarter leading it 51-49.
 

HALFTIME

Cookie Break!!

To this point, Orlando had kept it close and often led, a situation I frankly hadn't expected given the recent schedule of both teams.  The C's work on the boards wasn't great, and to a point, Vin Baker had been more effective than Tony Battie at getting in close.  The trips to the free throw line were an exercise in coming up with ways to describe my aggravation without using four letter words.  Boston was a miserable 8-16, while Orlando a more respectable 10-12, at the line.

At least Boston was slowly getting the fast break on track, with a 13-5 edge in break points.  But the Celtics still have this aggravating habit of taking nice leisurely trips upcourt, as if their sneakers will melt if they go faster than 2 miles an hour.

The Magic were still outdoing the Celtics on the boards, 24-21.  Boston had some advantages, though--they led in paint points, 18-12, and the Boston bench had scored better, 11-6.  The number of threes made was even, though of course, Boston took many more attempts--5-16, where Orlando was 5-9.  The FGP was very close:  Boston was 18-41 for 44% at the half, a major improvement over their percentage in the first quarter.  Orlando had cooled off a little, 18-40 for 45%.

I hoped they'd pay attention to Mike Miller, who was making a nice living behind the arc.

I just hoped that the game wouldn't come down to those missed free throws.  So far, they represented 8 missed points.  Hopefully, the Celtics would open it up in the third quarter.

As an aside, I had to watch the local Orlando feed, and I was appreciative at how complimentary the announcers were about the Celtics--not like those sons of muppets in Minnesota.

Cookie Break!!
 

Third Quarter:

The C's started by tying up the game, a prophetic situation as it happens, and then worked to a lead off a Tony Delk three.  Orlando was ice cold, going 0-5 as the C's worked to keep a good thing going.

On the next play there was the first of two displays of Celtics players being childish, as Walker took what he felt was a charge and was arguing with the ref while the rest of the team was back on defense.  This time it ended well, as Tony Delk got the rebound and lobbed the pumpkin back to Walker, who never did come back to the defensive end, and got an easy two.  I would have preferred if he'd gotten his butt back on defense.

Delk was loitering in the corner and hitting more deep threes, then working hard on defense to boot.

Battie then got called for his third foul, further evidence that he just didn't have his game in gear  tonight.  On the next trip up, he tried for an outside jumper that didn't get the good bounce.

The game remained close, Boston leading 59-58 with half the quarter played.  The announcers remarked that Walker was being careless with the ball, and they were right.  Walker made some questionable passes, though on the specific occasion they mentioned it, Waltah! had actually backed out of position as Walker threw the pass.  Had he not moved, he'd have had an open shot.  Though Walker blamed himself, that particular turnover was Waltah's! fault.

Then, we arrived at the second, sillier--and potentially more costly--occasion of childish behavior.  This time, it was Tony Battie, pushing his luck right over a cliff by aggravating the ref like the Coyote after the Road Runner.  Battie had called for the ball under the hoop and got it, but it went out of bounds off Tony.  He loudly complained, drawing a quick "T", and immediately kicked the ball at the ref, which got him tossed.  I looked at the replay on freeze frame, and the ball DID go out off Battie--he claimed he was fouled on the arm, which sent the ball out of bounds.  He might have had a case there, but it was close, and certainly not worth getting booted over.  Kicking the ball at the ref who just gave you a "T" is stupid.  Foul or no foul, Tony should have let it go after the first "T" and walked away.

Some of the Celtics have been doing that sort of thing lately, and it comes off as childish and unprofessional.  Passion for the game is one thing, but they need to keep their heads--and the rest of their bodies, for that matter--in the game.  This action now forced Vin Baker--himself foul prone at the best of times--to go back in for extended minutes.  Speaking of Vinnie, Battie and Walker could learn a lot from his reaction to fouls.  He obviously doesn't agree with all the calls, but he just goes back to work, and plays harder.  Tony had a really bad night, and topped it off by behaving like a jerk.  Maybe after he cooled down he realized how silly he was.

Of course, the crowd got into it, and the Celtics responded by playing harder.  The game was still close, and showed no signs of being an easy win for either team.  Boston was shooting 50% in the quarter so far, while Orlando was down to 20%. with 4:30 to go.

Walker was leading the way for Boston with a 6 point run of his own, matched by Tracy McGrady's 6 straight.  Then Miller tossed in his fifth three like it was an open layup.  That made it 73-65 Orlando with 2:44 to go in the quarter.

Vin Baker somehow picked up what might charitably called a pass from Shammond around his ankles and turned it into two points.  This helped Boston to a 30-12 lead in paint points, as Vin was having a really good game, collecting another defensive rebound on the next play.

But Orlando extended it's lead as the quarter ended with a score of 75-69.

By this time, the Celtics were shooting 27-58 for 47%, while Orlando was 25-60 for 42%.  The Magic were still out rebounding the Celtics 35-31, while Boston held the edge in threes, 7-20 vs. 6-13 for Orlando.  The good news on the free throws was that they Celtics hadn't got any worse since halftime.  The bad news was it was due to not having any trips to the line in the quarter, still at 8-16, while the Magic were now 19-23.  It might yet come down to those missed chances at the line.
 

Fourth Quarter:

Orlando opened up with a hoop by McGrady, and Pierce responded by a basket plus the foul, a welcome improvement since he'd been scoreless in the third quarter.

The Magic still proved prone to turnovers, but it was now imperative that the Celtics start taking advantage of that with points.  They did, as Eric Williams sank a three.  But Eric immediately made a silly defensive foul as the shot clock was running down.  After another shot clock reset, Horace Grant hit his first hoop of the night.

Walker still hadn't wiped the ice off the ball, and kept turning it over.  I wondered if it was that injury he had in the Friday game that left his hand in ice at the end of the night.

The C's defense was tighter, and whatever problems Walker may have holding the ball, he can still shoot it, as he got another basket.  But the Magic were tough too, perfectly willing to go to the floor for the ball.  With 6 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the score was 83-80, Magic leading.  Then Eric Williams hit an amazing shot that drew a foul.  Following a timeout, he hit the free throw (YAY!) to tie the game at 83.

By the way, they showed a courtside replay of an errant pass from Darrell Armstrong, that bopped a guy in the front row and spilled his beer all over him.  He smiled ruefully and drank what was left in the cup.  Someone was nice enough to get him a towel (and hopefully, a fresh brew).

A minute later, Pierce reestablished the tie by hitting two free throws.  I'm not trying to make Pierce look good--he was one of the only people for Boston shooting with some consistency at the line.  It was now 85-85 with 4:55 to go.

Pat Garrity picked this time to successfully score points, giving Orlando the lead.  Pierce then went to the hoop and was fouled on the made basket.  He hit the free throw (YAY!)

By this time, the refs made it clear that bloodless fouls were no longer being called as there was 3:25 to go and the score was again tied at 91.

Walker drew the defense made a really nice pass to Delk, who called for the ball, then missed a wide open three.  I wish he'd come in a few steps, and he'd have had an equally open--and easier--two.  I've been seeing more and more of Walker recognizing the passing options, and if the recipients start hitting more consistently, he's going to pile up assists and drive defenders buggy.

With 2:39 to go, Pierce drew a foul and went back to the line.  He hit both and tied it up at 93.  The Magic turned it over, and Walker obliged with two more.  With 1:41 to go, the Celtics had a 2 point lead and the ball.  But Orlando ripped down the rebound off Walker's miss, and called timeout with 1:15 to go.

After the timeout, Orlando took the ball in at halfcourt, and after a nice screen, took a deep two that missed.  Walker took the rebound and the Celtics proceeded to annoy me by taking another one of those leisurely jaunts toward the offensive end.  Boston couldn't decide what shot to look for with 2 seconds on the shot clock,  when Orlando tied them up for a jump ball with 41.3 seconds to go.

The jump was eventually controlled by Boston as Walker retrieved what everyone agreed was a really bad toss by the ref.  Pierce's jumper rimmed out and Orlando took the rebound with 27.8 seconds left, but Miller lost it out of bounds back to Boston.

After a 20 second timeout, the Good Guys took it inbounds and decided th gamble running the clock with a 2 point lead.  But Delk's shot went into the teeth of a triple team and a shot clock violation occurred.  There was now 3.8 seconds left, and Orlando called time trailing 95-93.

It was imperative that Boston do two things defensively--stop the three and don't foul anybody.  Orlando needed a good shot.  There was enough time left to take a dribble or two for shooting possession.

Orlando inbounded to MacGrady, who missed, but got his rebound to tie the game with 1.3 seconds to go, giving Boston one last chance to win it.  There was a case to be made that Orlando had a five second violation, but I couldn't hear the whistle that started play.  It was VERY close.  there was also, to be fair, a case for Pierce to have fouled McGrady on the face--but no ref who likes breathing calls those fouls.

The Celtics promptly called a timeout to set up a catch and shoot from halfcourt.  Eric Williams was the only one who could get open to receive the inbound pass, but his last moment heave was well-defended and short of the hoop, sending the game to overtime with a 95-95 tie.
 

OVERTIME:

The good news was that the C's were 2-0 in overtime games this season, most recently a double OT win three weeks ago against the Hawks.  Orlando hadn't played an overtime session yet this year.

The C's had the first chance to score in OT, but Pierce missed.  Then Orlando also missed.  Tony Delk took the rebound and fired a three from the top of the key to give Boston a 98-95 lead.  Orlando missed again--they'd do that a lot in OT, they only scored a point when DeClercq went one for two at the line.

Boston then went back to work on offense as Pierce hit one of those weird off balance shots that he makes look like he does those all the time.  Oh, yeah....I forgot.  The C's now held a 100-96 lead with 2:29 to go as Orlando called timeout.

The Magic then took the ball at halfcourt and went to Miller for a three, but his miss rebounded long and Eric Williams nearly had his face become one with the scorer's table as he skidded face first, hands outstretched to try to retrieve the ball.  The Magic retained possession with 2:17 to go.  Garrity missed his three from the same spot Miller did, near the elbow of the arc, and the Good Guys took the rebound and went back on the offense with less than two minutes to go.

Walker hit a shot clock three with the defense in his face and Orlando couldn't answer at the other end as Delk eventually recovered the rebound with 1:25 to go.  They fired the ball in to Delk, who had sneaked under the hoop where Tony Battie usually camps out for an easy two, making it 105-96 with 1:05 left in OT.  Orlando called timeout to regroup as the Celtics had the game in hand with a 10-1 run.

But there was a lot more game left.

Following the timeout, McGrady went to the hoop, but the shot didn't go and Boston took the rebound with 57 seconds to go.  Then the Celtics--again--took their sweet time moving the ball up.  This time, the Magic were ready.  Tony Delk , who was bringing the ball up, was stripped at the halfcourt line by Armstrong and had to foul to prevent a layup.  Grant Hill went to the line with 46.1 seconds to go and sank both shots, cutting the Celtics lead to 7 points.

It was now time to start the parade to the free throw line, as Orlando made two quick fouls to send Paul Pierce to shoot two with 44.7 seconds.  He went one for two.  (AAUGH!)

The Magic called time to set up a quick offense.  Miller made a catch and shoot for a deep two.  the C's had to call time due to difficulty inbounding with 42.5 seconds left.

At halfcourt, the Magic sent Waltah! to shoot two, and he went one for two (AAUGH!)  The Magic zoomed upcourt and Garrity launched a three that missed, but Eric Williams forgot the brakes again and made a loose ball foul with 37.1 seconds left and Boston still leading 107-100.

Armstrong went to the line and went one for two, with Pierce getting the rebound--and a trip to the line for his efforts.  He went one for two (AAAUUUGGGGHHHH!!) and Orlando ran hard to take advantage, but threw the ball to someone in the fourth row.  The Good Guys regained possession with 30.5 seconds to go.

Next to the line was Tony Delk, who made BOTH FREE THROWS!! (YAAAAAYYYYY!!!!)  Time was called with 28.9 seconds left and the Celtics still ahead, 110-101.

The Magic took it inbounds and Miller hit another three, after which Tony Delk was quickly fouled with 24.9 seconds to go.  Tony hit both (YAAAYYYY!!) making it 112-104 as Orlando raced back on offense, with no timeouts left to call.  The Celtics put some fullcourt pressure on to eat up time, and McGrady went in for two with 14.3 seconds left to make it 112-106.

Tony Delk took the inbounds pass and lobbed it to Shammond at the opposite free throw line, where he tried to dribble out the clock, but got fouled...*sigh*  He hit both (YAAAYYYYY!!!!) and the Magic ran up one more time to make a shot clock three to make the final score 114-109.

It took over 17 minutes to play the final minute of the OT.  The Celtics outscored the Magic 19-14 in the "five minute" overtime session.  Will they please take the hint and start hitting free throws?

Both teams could have won this game in regulation--Boston with better free throws, and Orlando with fewer turnovers.  The Celtics got lucky when they weren't good.  Pierce and Walker saved the C's green butts.  Games like this are exciting, but I could live with a few boring games, really.  The Magic outscored the Celtics in two of 4 regulation quarters, and their gamble on the C's free throw shooting came too close to working.

The Celtics were outrebounded by a team that they should have been dominating, and failed to capitalize properly on turnovers.  Also, starting the game with a three minute scoring draught is not good.  They need to work on that.  Also on their )%^@()&(^(@%#)@)%@^ FREE THROWS.

Please, someone--call Bob Cousy, and have him drill the guys in how to shoot free throws.

The FGP balanced out, as the Celtics went 39-82 for 47%, and Orlando was 38-89 for 42%.  The C's went 12-31 from the arc for 37%, while the Magic were 8-18 for 44%.

Free throws Boston: 24-35 for 68%.   Free throws Orlando: 25-32 for 78%.  Good thing the Mavs weren't in town.

The Good Guys were outrebounded 51-42, and 16-5 on the offensive boards alone.  The Celtics did outdo the Magic in paint points, but they still need to fine tune their fast break and stop strolling upcourt.

The Phoenix Suns come to town Wednesday.

HEROES AND ZEROS:

Heroes:

Paul Pierce:  30 points (on 9-20 shooting), 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks.  That's your E.C. Player of the Week, people.

Antoine Walker: 28 points on 50% shooting, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.  I really think his 8 turnovers is an aberration, due to that hand injury last Friday.  He's not normally that careless.

Tony Delk: 20 points on 50% shooting, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and a block.  Very nice work.

Vin Baker: 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists--and played 22 minutes with 3 fouls after Battie imploded.  I liked what he did tonight.  Oh, and he shot 100% from the field.

Eric Williams: 9 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 4 steals.  Now that's defense.
 

IN-BETWEEN:

Waltah! McCarty & Shammond Williams:  Both had decent games--not great, not terrible.
 

Zeros:

Tony Battie:  needs to go to bed without his supper.

The Celtics free throw shooting: 24-35 for 68% is lousy.  They need extra practice at the line.  Tony Delk and Paul Pierce are excused since they went 4-4 and 10-14 respectively.

Celtics rebounding: got beat 16-5 in offensive rebounds?  That IS offensive.

And that's the view from the doghouse.
1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q OT Final
Magic 26 25 24 20 14 109
Celtics 21 28 20 26 19 114