ORLANDO, Fla. — Paul Pierce had 24 points and 10 assists, and E’Twaun Moore added 16 points to help the Boston Celtics erase a 27-point deficit and beat the Orlando Magic for the second time this week, 91-83 on Thursday night.
Pierce and Moore had 10 points each in the fourth quarter.
Dwight Howard led the Magic with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Orlando had an 11-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but shot 2 of 17 in the final 12 minutes. The Magic scored just eight points in the period.
The Celtics have won three straight for just the second time this season. It also was their fourth consecutive victory over the Magic, dating to last season.
Since a season-best, five-game winning streak, the Magic have lost three times in five games, including a 31-point defeat at Boston on Monday.
After being mostly manhandled on both ends for three quarters, Boston found its energy in the final 12 minutes, sparked by Pierce and Moore.
The Celtics opened the fourth quarter with a 15-1 run and grabbed their first lead since the opening period, 79-76 with 7:32 to play.
The Magic went 0-for-7 from the field, missed 5 of 6 free throws and committed three turnovers during Boston’s spurt.
A free throw by Pierce after Ryan Anderson’s technical foul made it 84-78 with 3:47 remaining. The Magic got within 84-80 after a pair of free throws by Hedo Turkoglu, but no closer.
Early on, it seemed like the Magic’s night.
In a reversal of its dismal performance in the first half of Monday’s loss, Orlando led 58-37 at halftime on Thursday — eclipsing its point total in the entire first game by a basket in the opening 24 minutes.
With three starters out, including center Jermaine O’Neal, Boston coach Doc Rivers was forced to start Kevin Garnett opposite Howard.
The move worked out early.
Howard was whistled for two quick fouls — one while setting a screen, and the second defending Garnett about 15 feet from the basket. He was forced to the bench less than three minutes in.
The Magic picked it up on both ends without him, and closed the quarter on a 30-11 run to build a 16-point lead.
Anderson was active throughout the spurt and led with 12 first-quarter points. He also kept several possessions alive by tipping the ball out from scrums underneath the basket.
Notes: Magic owner Rich DeVos and former guard Nick Anderson presented Howard with a plaque to commemorate him passing Anderson as the Magic’s career leading scorer. Howard broke the mark against Indiana earlier this week. … Rivers was given his third technical foul of the season with 8:47 left in the first quarter. … The Celtics played without G Rajon Rondo, who missed his fourth game because of a sore right wrist, G Ray Allen, who was out for a second game with an injured left ankle, and C Jermaine O’Neal, out because of a sore left knee. Rivers said Rondo is still in pain, and there is no timetable for his return.