Final: Boston 97, Magic 84
The short-handed Celtics win their third straight -- all without Rajon Rondo -- to improve to .500 (23-23) after learning earlier in the day that rookie forward Jared Sullinger (back surgery) is lost for the season. The Celtics had five players score in double figures, led by 17 from Jeff Green off the bench. Paul Pierce posted his third straight double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds -- and Pierce also had 7 assists. Orlando (14-32) has lost eight straight games and 19 of 21 since Dec. 19. The Magic had four players score in double figures, and Nikola Vucevic had a double double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Fourth quarter: 2:38, Boston 92, Magic 77
We’re almost done here. Just a few more ticks of the clock to go. Quite a few Celtics fans are leaving the Garden early to beat traffic. They’re missing the season debut of Fab Melo.
Fourth quarter: 5:05, Boston 86, Magic 67
...And Fab Melo still hasn’t checked into the game, which tells you pretty much all you need to know. He’s a raw talent and the Celtics aren’t in any rush to use him. But the unit they’ve been using lately -- Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry -- has been awfully effective. Celtics have five in double figures, led by 15 off the bench for Green, who has thrown down several nasty dunks tonight.
Fourth quarter: 8:20, Boston 82, Magic 63
The Magic have been jacking up awful shots for much of the night, and it’s now starting to catch up to them. They’re shooting 33 percent from the floor. Boston, on the other hand, is shooting 52 percent, and the Celtics are running and gunning for easy transition baskets. The Celtics also have three players off the bench in double figures, led by 13 from Jeff Green. This oen appears over.
End of the third quarter: Boston 72, Magic 59
The Celtics closed the quarter on a 15-5 run to make the margin what it is. They’re really pushing the tempo -- much like we saw against the Kings -- and Leandro Barbosa has been out in front. He has 8 points. Paul Pierce has a double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds...and he also has 7 assists. If he nabs another triple double, it would be his second in three games. J.J. Redick has 15 points to lead the Magic.
Third quarter: 1:54, Boston 66, Magic 56
Leandro Barbosa added a layup in traffic, and Jason Terry followed that up with a transition layup to give the Celtics back their double-digit lead. The Magic have started to fold on offense, with sloppy possessions ending up in turnovers. Plus, Jameer Nelson left the game with a left forearm contusion and he will not return.
Third quarter: 3:47, Boston 62, Magic 54
Brandon Bass grabbed a rebound that he shouldn’t have been able to grab, then pump-faked a few times in traffic beneath the basket before throwing down a two-handed slam. That’s your play of the night so far for the Celtics. Boston followed that up with a short jumper by Paul Pierce, and then a thunderous one-handed driving slam by Jeff Green, who has 9 points off the bench, including two dunks.
Third quarter: 5:54, Boston 55, Magic 49
Avery Bradley has a pair of buckets to help give Boston a bit of breathing room. We’re seeing the Celtics expend a tad more energy now that they’re lead has shrunken to single digits. They’re mostly staying with the ir starting unit, except for Garnett, who’s catching a breather on the bench.
Third quarter: 8:07, Boston 51, Magic 43
The Celtics had some ugly possessions to start the third quarter, and as a result the Magic started chipping away at their lead. Courtney Lee was flattened by a screen set by Nikola Vucevic, and Lee went down pretty hard, but he ultimately stayed in the game.
Halftime: Boston 46, Magic 35
The Celtics take a double-digit lead into the locker room, but they’ve really only played well in spurts. They sleep-walked into this game and still look half asleep, as they could be beating the Magic by 20 if not more. Kevin Garnett has 10 points and 5 rebounds to lead the Celtics. Paule Pierce has 5 points and 8 rebounds. The Celtics are shooting 49 percent (20 for 41) from the floor. Nikola Vucevic has 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Magic, who are shooting 33 percent (15 for 46) from the floor.
Second quarter: 1:29, Boston 45, Magic 33
Jeff Green posted consecutive buckets in transition -- a two-handed slam, a nifty up-and-under layup -- that forced Orlando to take a timeout. The Celtics are just now getting back to that transition style that they had against Sacramento. We’ll see if it keeps up.
Second quarter: 3:07, Boston 41, Magic 30
Nikola Vucevic has been impressive for Orlando, posting a double double (11 points, 10 rebounds) in the first 18 minutes of this game. But the Celtics continue to stay out in front by double digits. KG is 5 of 7 from the floor and has 10 points and 5 rebounds. The Celtics have 15 bench points and are shooting an even 50 percent from the floor (18 for 36).
Second quarter: 6:11, Boston 35, Magic 24
The Magic are putting up a lot of bricks: 1 of 11 from 3-point range, 10 of 34 from the floor overall. They’re trying to play small ball -- and it isn’t working. The Celtics, meanwhile, are starting to pick up some steam. They’re shooting 47 percent (15 of 32) and KG has hit 3 of his 5 shots.
Second quarter: 8:15, Boston 29, Magic 22
The Celtics went with some pieces of their second unit -- Jeff Green, Chris Wilcos, Leandro Barbosa, Jason Terry -- and they held down the fort while the starters caught a blow. The Magic look like a pretty terrible team without Glen Davis and Aaron Afflalo. Kevin Garnett just checked back into the game and sank one of his midrange jumpers.
End of first quarter: Boston 25, Magic 18
It took the Celtics until nearly the end fo the first quarter, but they finally started to exert a little energy. J.J. Redick and Courtney Lee exchanged 3-pointers. And then Jason Terry got into the act with a trey of his own. Terry added another bucket to give him a team-high 7 points off the bench. The Celtics ended the quarter on a 10-2 run. Nikola Vucevic has 7 points to lead the Magic.
First quarter: 5:53, Magic 11, Boston 7
The Celtics are playing some U-G-L-Y basketball. They’ve got a pair of turnovers, are 3 of 12 from the floor and still look like they’re asleep/in mourning for Jared Sullinger.
First quarter: 7:19, Boston 7, Magic 6
The Celtics missed their first six shots before Brandon Bass sunk a mid-range jumper. That said, they’re still 3 of 11 from the floor. Not the hot start they were hoping for. The Magic are without Glen Davis (broken left foot) and Aaron Afflalo (strained left calf).
And were moments from tipoff here at the Garden, where the Magic (14-31) will take on the Celtics (22-23) this Friday evening. We’ll have live updates throughout the game, so stay tuned to the blog. And be sure to check out tomorrow’s Globe for full coverage.