Celtics come from 27 down, beat Magic, 91-83

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Celtics come from 27 down, beat Magic, 91-83

ORLANDO, Fla. Where's Dr. Henry Heimlich when you need him?

The Orlando Magic, who led the Boston Celtics by as many as 27 points on Thursday, pulled the choke-job of all choke-jobs - at home no less - as the C's pulled off an improbable 91-83 win.

Boston was led by Paul Pierce's 24 points, 19 of which came in the second half. Boston also got a much-needed lift off the bench from rookie E'Twaun Moore who had a career-high 16 points which included four, 3-pointers - one of which put the C's ahead for good in the fourth.

"The other night, we won because of Avery's (Bradley) defense," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "Tonight we won because of E'Twaun's defense and E'Twaun's offense. I thought that for a rookie in this atmosphere, I thought that was sensational."

Orlando was led by Dwight Howard's 16 points and 16 rebounds, but most of his best work came well before the Celtics takeover.

The loss comes just three days after the Celtics crushed the Magic by 31 points at the Garden.

And like that game, the C's were undermanned on Thursday.

Rajon Rondo (wrist) and Jermaine O'Neal (knee) were unable to play, and Ray Allen (ankle) was back in Boston. Keyon Dooling returned from a knee injury, but he left in the second quarter with a hip pointer injury.

Healthy or not, the C's (8-9) managed to do all the things it needed to do in order to get a tough, hard-earned win when it seemed the game was all but over by halftime.

Meanwhile, the Magic (12-6) once again looked dazed, confused and befuddled for long stretches - especially in the second half.

"We thought it was going to be easy after the first two quarters," Howard said. "We can't allow that. We have to change."

Former Celtic Glen Davis placed much of the blame for the loss on his play. There's no question that Davis, much like the rest of the Magic, played significantly better in the first half than the second.

"I didn't do what I needed to do," Davis said. "In the first half, I had a lot of energy and made some good things happen. And in the second half, I was nowhere to be found. At the end of the day, you can say whatever and you can blame whoever you want to blame, but I'm looking at myself instead of those around me. I didn't come to play in the second half."

And the C's came in waves, beginning with Pierce's scoring and ending with a suffocating defense fueled by Kevin Garnett who had 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots - comparable numbers to Howard.

The win certainly will go down as one of the C's more impressive ones this season.

But there was more than just adding to the victory total going on with this one.

"That was a character builder for our team, it really was," Rivers said. "It's all that we talked about at halftime. You know what I love about this team? Everybody responded. This is a team win. This is about as good as a team win that you can have."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.