Pierce, Bass carry Celtics over Magic, 87-56
BOSTON – Paul Pierce and former Magic forward Brandon Bass each scored 19 points to carry the injury-riddled Boston Celtics to an 87-56 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
The Magic set franchise lows for points and field goals (16).
Boston was minus starters Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and three bench players, drastically reducing its roster.
Bass and Pierce carried the offense and Boston got some strong play from a cast of down-the-bench reserves. The Celtics snapped a streak of six straight losses against teams with winning records.
Dwight Howard led the Magic with 18 points and 14 rebounds. He needs eight points to surpass Nick Anderson as the Magic's all-time leading scorer.
Kevin Garnett added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Boston.
The Celtics led by 10 at the half, turned up the pressure defensively and scored 16 of the first 21 points in the second half to pull ahead 62-41. Pierce had seven points in the run and set up Marquis Daniels for a layup that gave Boston its 21-point edge with 2:31 remaining in the quarter.
The Celtics held Orlando to one field goal in the opening 9:52 of the third and just two for the quarter — both 3-pointers. The Magic hit 2 of 11 shots and had nine turnovers.
Howard, who missed 5 of 8 free throws in the third and went 0 for 5 from the field, flung the ball in frustration at the end of the quarter, nailing the backboard from his own end of the floor as the horn sounded with Boston holding a 69-46 lead.
Boston didn't let up in the fourth until Pierce and Garnett came out with just over five minutes to play. The Magic had a season-high 25 turnovers, 20 in the second half, and a season-low points.
Jermaine O'Neal and Howard were involved in a brief shoving match in the lane and both were given technicals midway into the third quarter. O'Neal got the initial foul on the play with a hard shove.
The Celtics led 36-36 at halftime, with Pierce and Bass each scoring 13 points.
The Celtics acquired Bass in a sign-and-trade deal with Orland that sent Glen "Big Baby" Davis to the Magic.
Boston forwards Mickael Pietrus (shoulder) and Chris Wilcox (left calf) and guard Keyon Dooling (right knee) were also out — though not missed on this night.
Boston scored nine straight points late in the second quarter, pulling to a 43-33 lead on Pierce's 3 from the left wing with 45 seconds left.
Sasha Pavlovic and Avery Bradley started in the backcourt for Boston and attempted to pressure Orlando's guards early, helping the Celtics pick up the pressure defensively.
Neither team shot well in the opening half. Boston hit 36.6 percent and Orlando 28.9, but Bass was 5 of 8 from the floor in the opening half and Howard had 14 points.
NOTES: Orlando's previous low was 78 points. ... The Celtics welcomed back Davis during a break in the opening quarter with highlights and "Thank You Big Baby" on the jumbotron. He got a standing ovation from the crowd, walked onto the court and pumped his fist. ... Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said before the game that he's amused how people are talking about Boston's slow start this season. "People see the record and panic," he said. "People talk about 'The Celtics are too old and can't play.' I'm not buying it. What are they going to say when they start winning, they got younger?" ... Forward Jeff Green, who had surgery Jan. 9 to repair an aeortic aneurysm, visited Boston's locker room before the game and in the morning. "It was awesome," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "I'm amazed. Two weeks and he's walking around. We were sarcastic this morning, saying 'He's walking around and you guys can't play.'"