The Celtics were up by ten points when Paul Pierce essentially dared Magic rookie Moe Harkless to take a three-pointer at the start of the third quarter.
Harkless drained it. Doc Rivers called a timeout.
The message was pretty clear: Don't let Orlando back in the game by easing off the gas pedal. The Celtics didn't get the message right away, but they shaped up enough to squeak out a 116-110 overtime victory over the Magic.
"It's a big win especially after coming off an emotional win against Oklahoma," Pierce said to CSNNE.com's A. Sherrod Blakely. "We let our guard down in the third quarter and we can't do that. We can't have those mental lapses when we have a team on the ropes and we have a chance to put them away. But even in a win it's a learning experience, you can learn from games like these and build on them."
The Magic clawed their way back into the game in the third quarter, scoring 34 points while only giving up 22. That ten-point cushion the C's had was no more. Orlando led by two points by the end of the third quarter, and it was the game's "other" point guard Jameer Nelson who was the biggest reason why.
Nelson, who finished with 20 points, scored the last eight points of the quarter in the final 1:23, and momentum had shifted 180-degrees in favor of the Magic.
They'd go up by a few more points before the Celtics finally hunkered down on the defensive end in the 4th quarter, holding Orlando to just 20 points, five of which came in the last 5:35 of the fourth. A Paul Pierce (23 points, 8-of-17) step back jumper fell short in the final seconds of regulation, leading to overtime.
It was pretty clear early on that Rajon Rondo was going to continue his 10-plus assists streak after registering six in the first quarter alone. Rondo did what Rondo does once again, getting the C's out in transition as much as possible. But it was a huge layup late in overtime that ended up being the final blow for the Magic. Rondo ripped down a defensive rebound and went coast to coast to put the C's up by two possessions. He finished with 15 points, 16 assists, and nine rebounds.
The win makes it two hard-fought wins in a row for Boston, a good sign for them.
"It means that we're building," Pierce said. "We're starting to build on some of these wins, try to get some momentum, and that's what it's going to take in this league. Anybody is vulnerable on any given night."
Leandro Barbosa didn't fill up the stat sheet the same way Rondo did, but played just about as good as it gets in 11 minutes, scoring 15 points (6-for-8 from the field) himself in the win. Barbosa racked up four fouls, but not before taking over late in first quarter and into the second quarter.
Jared Sullinger was another force off the bench for the C's Sunday night, as he showcased his soft touch around the rim with numerous tip-ins and a flashy up-and-under play with the left hand in the third quarter that went down and drew a foul. Sullinger finished with 11 points and six rebounds -- all on the offensive glass.
He matched up well with Glen Davis at times, who had a rocky start to the game. Davis, now taking on a leadership role with the Magic, didn't hit his first shot until the 1:30 mark of the second quarter. He finished the game with 15 points on 3-of-12 shooting, including a bricked three-pointer in the final seconds of overtime.
Brandon Bass scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against his old team, while Jeff Green came back down to earth, finishing with just one point on 0-of-9 shooting from the field.