By Jessica Camerato
BOSTON -- The faces were familiar and so was the end result.
With less than a minute on the clock and the game tied at 104-104, Doc Rivers stuck with the lineup of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Glen Davis.
It was a group that has been intact since the 2007-08 season. They won a championship together. And on Monday night, they won the game together.
Theyre just smart, Dwight Howard said after the Celtics' 109-106 victory over his Orlando Magic. They dont let a lot of things get to them. And thats how youre supposed to play. You never see those guys arguing with each other, mad about little things. And those are things we need to learn as a team -- just not get frustrated when teams make runs, just play through it.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers subbed Davis in for Shaquille ONeal with 5:23 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied at 93-93. Each player made a difference down the stretch, whether it was a basket, a rebound, a block, or an assist.
With 38 seconds to go, Pierce nailed a jumper (and drew a foul) with Jason Richardsons hand in his face. Garnett, playing in his first game back from a calf injury, picked off a pass by Jameer Nelson and got it down the court to Allen, who iced the game with free throws.
From one teammate to the next, each of the Celtics played a role in the win.
Theyve been together long enough, Hedo Turkoglu told CSNNE.com. They just know how to play and they know how to execute together offensively. And defensively, too. You have to be really in the same mind with them going into the game and just executing and reading the situation and making smart decisions. But like today, it was down to the wire and they made a good play at the end.
Between six lead changes and three ties, the victory was up for grabs until the final seconds. In a game of instability, the Celtics turned to their foundation - defense. Even without Kendrick Perkins, one of their biggest defensive weapons against Howard, they held the Magic to just two points in the final 51 seconds.
I told them the last three minutes we turned back to who we were, said Doc Rivers. We were a defensive team and became that, and thats why we won the game.
The Celtics' 31st win of the season was a testament to their team chemistry. The Magic, on the other hand, continue to build their own with new faces acquired just last month. Of the players on the court at the buzzer, Richardson was traded from the Phoenix Suns in December and Turkoglu re-joined his former team in the deal.
We dont look at it that way, 'cause this is our team now and we cant be making excuses like that, said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. Were like everyone else now. We got 41 games left to get ready to play at this level.
As for the Celtics, they proved they can already play there.
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