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NBA roundup: Short-handed Celtics hammer the Magic in 31-point blowout

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 23 2012 11:52 p.m. MST

Boston's Kevin Garnett, left, battles with former teammate Glen Davis, now of Orlando.

Associated Press

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics' injuries didn't affect what coach Doc Rivers always wants — solid defense.

Paul Pierce and former Magic forward Brandon Bass each scored 19 points to carry the injury-riddled Celtics to an 87-56 win over Orlando on Monday night.

The Magic set franchise lows for points and field goals (16).

"Defensively that was as good as you can get," Rivers said after his team matched a club record for fewest points allowed in the shot-clock era, also done last season against Milwaukee.

Boston was minus starters Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and three bench players, drastically reducing its roster.

Bass and Pierce carried the offense and Boston got some strong play from a cast of down-the-bench reserves. The Celtics snapped a streak of six straight losses against teams with winning records.

Pierce is looking for it to shake Boston out of its early season woes

"Hopefully it'll funnel over to the guys that were out," said Pierce, who followed a 34-point effort in a win at Washington on Sunday. "There's no more excuses."

Avery Bradley and Sasha Pavlovic started in the backcourt for Boston and attempted to pressure Orlando's guards early, helping the Celtics pick up the pressure defensively.

Dwight Howard led the Magic with 18 points and 14 rebounds. He needs eight points to surpass Nick Anderson as the Magic's career scoring leader. But Howard was 0-for-6 from the floor and just 4-for-10 from the free throw line in the second half.

"They came out and absolutely dominated us with their energy and defensive intensity," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.

Kevin Garnett added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Boston.

The Celtics led by 10 at the half, turned up the pressure defensively and scored 16 of the first 21 points in the second half to pull ahead 62-41. Pierce had seven points in the run and set up Marquis Daniels for a layup that gave Boston its 21-point edge with 2:31 remaining in the quarter.

The Celtics held Orlando to one field goal in the opening 9:52 of the third and just two for the quarter — both 3-pointers. The Magic hit 2 of 11 shots and had nine turnovers.

"It was a tough game. They pressured us a lot," Howard said. "We rushed shots. It just wasn't a good night overall for us."

MAVERICKS 93, SUNS 87: At Dallas, Shawn Marion scored a season-high 29 points and short-handed Dallas stretched its home winning streak to seven games with a victory over Phoenix.

Marion, who entered with five 3-pointers all season, went 4-of-6 from behind the arc and 11-for-20 from the field overall.

Top scorer Dirk Nowitzki and key reserve Vince Carter remain out for the defending NBA champion Mavericks (11-7), who returned home from a 2-2 road trip.

Grant Hill scored a season-high 19 points for Phoenix and Marcin Gortat had 19 points and 17 rebounds, his eighth consecutive double-double.

BULLS 110, NETS 95: At Chicago, Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton each scored 22 points to lead banged-up Chicago to an easy victory over New Jersey. Hamilton set season highs in points and assists (10). Rose added eight assists and hung with Deron Williams after missing four games with a sprained left big toe.

Joakim Noah chipped in with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls. Carlos Boozer had 14 points and nine rebounds, and Ronnie Brewer (11 points) filled in nicely with Luol Deng sidelined by a sprained left wrist.

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