Celtics take down the Magic, 91-80

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Celtics take down the Magic, 91-80

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Sometimes the greatest inspiration comes about in moments of tragedy.

We saw that on Sunday afternoon.

The Boston Celtics showed no signs of life against the Orlando Magic until one of their own, Marquis Daniels, went down because of a neck injury.

As he laid motionless, face-down on the floor, his teammates slowly gathered nearby, one by one to offer support.

In a season in which the Celtics have been challenged in so many ways on and off the court, here was yet another moment in which that tougher-than-teflon bond that Celtics players talk about, was put to the test.

And once again, they collectively rose to the occasion in rallying for a 91-80 win over Orlando.

Rajon Rondo led the way with a season-high 26 points, to go with game-high seven assists.

But maybe the biggest assist of the night came from Daniels, whose injury seemed to light a fuse in his teammates.

Paul Pierce has seen plenty of teams go into a funk when a teammate goes down, essentially using that as an excuse to lose.

But the Celtics once again proved they're mental make-up is different from most teams.

"I think we kind of fed off Daniels' injury," Pierce said. "It was kind of like, 'Let's do this for 'Quis.' I was on the bench at the time, but it was like our energy went up. That's what started the run."

With the victory, Boston (38-12) has now won the head-to-head series with the Magic, a nice little card to have in hand in case these two finish with an identical record.

For Orlando (32-20), it was another loss that draws the Magic closer to the middle of the Eastern Conference pack, and pads even more distance between them and the top teams in the East like Boston, Miami and Chicago.

Of course, the Magic were short-handed without power forward Brandon Bass, who is out because of an ankle injury.

But the last team with whom you can have a pity party when it comes to injuries, is the Celtics.

Even before Daniels' injury, it, appeared the Celtics were going to have to finish out Sunday's game with fewer players than they began it with.

Glen Davis suffered a head bruise in the second half, and appeared as though he might not be able to return.

After heading back to the locker room in the second quarter for further examination, he was deemed fit enough to return and was on the floor in the second half.

Prior to the game, coach Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com that Shaquille O'Neal (right Achilles tendon) would not play on Sunday. Rivers later told a group of reporters that O'Neal might be sidelined until the All-Star break.

Even with all the banged up bodies, the Celtics refused to let Sunday's game get away from them.

And when all was said and done, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was once again placing the blame for his team's struggles squarely upon himself.

"I just could not find anything for us to run to get a decent shot," Van Gundy said. "I didn't know who to play, I really did a poor job today."

Orlando, one of the NBA's better 3-point shooting teams, missed 21 of its 24 3-point attempts.

When the Magic struggle like that from the perimeter, that puts their chances of winning squarely upon the broad shoulders of Dwight Howard.

He did his part, scoring a game-high 28 points to go with 13 rebounds.

The C's had no problem with Howard having a big night offensively.

"We felt Dwight couldn't beat us by himself," Pierce said.

And as it turned out, the C's probably could not have beaten the Magic without Daniels' injury providing a much-needed emotional lift.

"We're happy that he's OK. He probably gave us a spark," Pierce said. "Thanks, 'Quis."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


 

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
 
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
 
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
 
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
 
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
 
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
 
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
 
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
 
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
 
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”