x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Pierce on cloud nine for the champions

Paul Pierce scored 24 points to guide the NBA champions Boston Celtics to a 107-88 win over the Orlando Magic, their ninth successive victory.

Paul Pierce was the man in form for the Boston Celtics.
Paul Pierce was the man in form for the Boston Celtics.

BOSTON // Paul Pierce scored 24 points to guide the NBA champions Boston Celtics to a 107-88 win over the Orlando Magic, their ninth successive victory. Pierce scored 17 of his points in the third quarter as the Celtics broke open a game they led just 48-46 at half-time to snap the Magic's four-game winning streak. The Celtics veteran scored more than half of his team's points in the third quarter, but said he just took advantage of the support he received.

"My teammates did a good job of setting me up," Pierce said. "We were just taking advantage of the match-ups." Ray Allen scored 21 points for Boston (17-2), while Rajon Rondo had 16 points with 12 assists. Kevin Garnett added 15 points and nine rebounds. The game was a highly charged affair with eight technical fouls called in the showdown between two of the Eastern Conference's top teams. "Emotions were running pretty high out there at times," the Boston coach Doc Rivers said.

"I think both teams realise the importance of games like this between teams that are as high in the standings as we are. "This was one interesting game. A lot of technicals." Rashard Lewis scored 30 points for the Magic. Hedo Turkoglu added 19 and Dwight Howard scored 14 points and pulled down 15 rebounds. "The score doesn't reflect how we match-up against the best team in the NBA," the Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said.

"I think more than anything it was a problem with our schemes and preparation. "That's not a player issue, it's a coaching issue." Orlando were without their starting guards for the second consecutive game. Jameer Nelson is sidelined with a hip flexor strain while Mickael Pietrus remained on injured reserve with a torn right thumb ligament. The Magic (13-5) still lead the Southeast Division by two games over Atlanta.

* Agencies