Rondo scores 26 as Celtics beat Magic 91-80

Posted Feb. 06, 2011, at 5:30 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 06, 2011, at 7:58 p.m.

BOSTON — Rajon Rondo kept scoring inside while the Orlando Magic continued missing from outside.

Boston’s pass-first point guard drove aggressively to the hoop and scored 26 points to lead the Celtics to a 91-80 win on Sunday.

“He totally dominated us,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said, “got where he wanted to go anytime he wanted to go.”

With Rondo scoring 11 points, the Celtics extended a 46-43 halftime lead to 70-61 after the third quarter. They led by eight to 16 points the rest of the way.

Paul Pierce had 18 points and Kevin Garnett scored 16 for the Celtics, who improved to 23-4 at home. Dwight Howard had 28 points — only six in the second half — and 13 rebounds for the Magic, who lost for the fifth time in eight games despite playing tight defense on Pierce and Ray Allen.

“They didn’t leave Ray or Paul’s body. I tried to be aggressive,” Rondo said. “The lane just opened up a lot more even though Dwight was down there.”

The Celtics rallied after a scary injury to backup guard Marquis Daniels with 11:01 left in the second quarter. He was taken off the court on a stretcher after a collision with Gilbert Arenas and Orlando ahead 24-17.

Dr. Brian McKeon, the Celtics’ team physician, said Daniels bruised his spinal cord. Danny Ainge, the team’s president of basketball operations, said Daniels had full function and, as a best case, would miss one to two months.

The injury helped the Celtics “a lot,” Rondo said. “It’s crazy to say you have to wait for something to happen to get a boost. That’s how it is.”

Boston led by three at halftime and stretched that to 70-55 with 3:36 left in the third quarter. At that point, the Celtics had made 9 of their 10 shots in the period while the Magic had hit just 4 of 18.

“I just could not find anything for us to run to get a decent shot,” Van Gundy said.

Orlando scored the last six points of the third quarter, cutting the lead to 70-61, but the Celtics came right back with a 7-2 run to go ahead 77-63.

“I thought Rondo took the third over,” Garnett said. “In the second half, we had a lot more energy emotionally.”

Allen made 2 of 4 3-point attempts and moved within three of the NBA record of 2,560 made 3-pointers held by Reggie Miller. Allen can improve on his total of 2,557 at Charlotte on Monday night.

The Magic made just 3 of 24 shots from 3-point range after entering the game ranked ninth in the NBA with a 36.8 percentage. They’ve taken and made the most 3-pointers in the league.

“If their 3-point game is going, they’re going to be tough to beat,” Pierce said. “We feel like Dwight couldn’t beat us by himself.”

Overall, the Magic took 30 more shots (32 for 93, 34.4 percent) than the Celtics (30 for 63, 47.6 percent) but made just two more. Ryan Anderson had 12 points for the Magic, but Gilbert Arenas was scoreless on seven shots and Hedo Turkoglu went 1 for 10 with 4 points.

“If we’re going to come in on the road and play the Boston Celtics you’ve got to have guys playing at a very high level,” Van Gundy said. “We didn’t have a single perimeter guy have a good game.”

Leading by three at halftime, Boston took control by scoring the first seven points of the third quarter, taking a 53-43 lead. Pierce began the spurt with a 15-footer, Garnett added a baseline jumper and Allen hit his second 3-pointer of the game.

Jason Richardson followed with a 3-pointer for the Magic before Rondo made two free throws and Pierce sank a layup for a 57-46 lead with 8:23 left in the quarter.

It was 65-55 before the Celtics ended the quarter with five straight points — a 3-pointer by Rondo and a layup by Garnett.

“The Miami Heat and Boston are rolling right now,” Howard said of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. “We’re going to be OK. We’ve got things we’ve got to work on.”

The Magic had raced to a 12-2 lead before the Celtics took their first lead 41-40 with 1:01 left in the half on two free throws by Garnett.

Boston’s Glen Davis bruised his head and Orlando’s Jameer Nelson was kicked in the ribs when they collided under the Magic’s basket with 3:57 left in the first quarter. Both left the game but returned in the second quarter.

Notes: Orlando F Brandon Bass missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle. … Boston C Shaquille O’Neal missed his second straight game, and is expected to sit out at least one more, with a sore right leg. … Orlando’s Howard, Nelson and Earl Clark received technical fouls in the first half. The Celtics had none for the game. … The teams also met in Boston on Super Bowl Sunday last year with Orlando winning 96-89. … Rondo had seven assists and six turnovers.

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