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Orlando breaks the Celtics' hold

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 29, 2002

ORLANDO -- Tommy Heinsohn has a fan in Magic coach Doc Rivers -- sort of.

Rivers credits the Hall of Fame player and current Celtics TV analyst for Orlando's win.

Drawing inspiration from a tape of Heinsohn criticizing the Magic, Orlando snuffed out Boston's comeback bid to hand the Celtics their third straight loss, 101-95 on Saturday night.

"Basically, he belittled every single player on our basketball team," Rivers said, deflecting attention away from how Orlando blew a 19-point lead. "To me, it's just like when you have kids and someone picks on them -- you take it personal."

Tracy McGrady scored 25 and Mike Miller had 20 for the Magic, which has won four of six. Andrew DeClercq had 13 points and 12 rebounds for his first double double with Orlando.

The Magic avoided a four-game losing streak to Boston, which included a 114-109 overtime loss Dec.9. It was that game when Heinsohn allegedly made his comments.

"Doc hit it right on the head -- we're like a family," said Miller, whose 3-pointer capped a 9-2 run and put Orlando ahead 95-89 with 2:45 left. "We care so much about each other, when someone talks bad about one of us, he's talking bad about all of us."

Heinsohn could not be reached for comment, as the Celtics' bus had left T.D. Waterhouse Centre by the time Rivers finished his remarks.

Paul Pierce -- shooting 9-for-28 but making all 16 free throws -- had 34 points and nine rebounds to lead the Celtics. Shammond Williams scored 16, nine in the fourth quarter.

Antoine Walker, suffering from a stomach bug that affected eight members of Boston's traveling party during a 1-3 road trip, scored nine before leaving early in the third quarter.

"I'm happy with the way we competed, but there are no moral victories in the NBA," said Pierce, whose free throws without a miss set a record for an Orlando opponent. "I think the guys responded better when Antoine went out, but I wish we responded better when he was out there."

For much of the game, it appeared the Magic would hand Boston its third straight blowout loss. Orlando had 65 points at halftime for an 18-point lead, and McGrady's free throw with 9:03 remaining in the third put the Magic up 70-51.

Boston slowly rallied, going ahead 87-86 on Pierce's shot with 5:23 left. The Celtics made 12 free throws in that span, shooting 31-for-32 overall, while Orlando missed 10 straight shots.

That's when Boston's comeback ran out of steam.

PACERS 91, HORNETS 84: Ron Artest scored 23 and reserve Erick Strickland had 12 of his 20 during host Indiana's decisive run. Strickland sparked a 16-9 surge during the final 3:21.

PISTONS 106, WOLVES 82: Richard Hamilton scored 24 for host Detroit, and Chauncey Billups added 21 against his former team. Kevin Garnett had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota.

WIZARDS 84, HAWKS 76: Jerry Stackhouse scored 15 of his 29 in the fourth as host Washington broke a three-game losing streak. Stackhouse started the final quarter with a 3-pointer after the Hawks cut the lead to one. He added a pair of free throws and a driving dunk in a decisive 13-4 run that put Washington ahead by 10 with five minutes left.

MAVERICKS 107, KNICKS 82: Steve Nash and Nick Van Exel regained their shooting touch, and host Dallas got its first 100-point effort in five games. Nash had 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting and Van Exel scored 15.

NETS 104, BUCKS 96: Kenyon Martin scored 24 and Jason Kidd added 23 as visiting New Jersey completed a home-and-home sweep. Lucious Harris added 17, Richard Jefferson 16 and Jason Collins 11 as every Nets starter reached double figures.

SPURS 109, BULLS 95: Tony Parker matched his career-high of 32 points and notched his second double double of the season for visiting San Antonio. Parker had 10 assists and five rebounds and made five free throws in the last minute to stop a late Bulls rally.

LAKERS 112, NUGGETS 93: Kobe Bryant scored 19 of his 39 in the first quarter, and Shaquille O'Neal added 22 for visiting Los Angeles. O'Neal added 13 rebounds as the Lakers won for the second time in six games.

JAZZ 98, 76ERS 69: Karl Malone scored 20 and Matt Harpring had 20 against his former team as extended Philadelphia's road losing streak to five. The game was interrupted briefly when a rat was thrown onto the court.

BULLS: Chicago activated Corie Blount and put Dalibor Bagaric on injured reserve.

CLIPPERS: Los Angeles activated forward Lamar Odom and placed rookie guard Marko Jaric on the injured list with a high left ankle sprain.

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