Feb 01, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) drives the ball against Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson (14) and small forward DeQuan Jones (20) during the first quarter at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Balanced, athletic Celtics spank Magic, win third straight

Sparked by suddenly realized athleticism and with the exuberance and intensity of a pick up game, the Boston Celtics have won three straight games.

Granted, the last two were blowouts against the Sacramento Kings and tonight’s opponent, the Orlando Magic – and, granted, it took a double overtime marathon to beat the reigning world champions Miami Heat…

…Well, yeah, isn’t that what is supposed to happen?

Aren’t the Boston Celtics supposed to be better than the bottom feeding Kings and floundering Magic?  Aren’t they supposed to be able to compete with the elite of the NBA?

If the answer is yes, then all is well in Beantown.

Playing with the knowledge that they will be without All Star point guard Rajon Rondo and rookie power forward Jared Sullinger for the remainder of the season, the Celtics have discovered a brand of small ball that has a pick up, run-and-gun feel on the offensive end that they can slow to a crawl when they need to and a relentless, swarming defense on the other.

Skywalker Jeff Green scored 17 electrifying points and Leandro Barbosa scored 12 as the bench led the Celtics to a 97-84 victory over Orlando in a game that was over long before the final whistle.

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee each scored 14 points for Boston, Pierce and Garnett pulling down 11 and 10 boards respectively.  The Captain also dished out 7 helpers for a Celtics’ team that totaled 30 assisits on the evening.

J.J. Redick led the Magic with 15 points, while Andrew Nicholson chipped in with 14 points and 10 boards and Nikola Vucevic chimed in with 14 and 14.  E’Twaun Moore scored 14 off the bench for Orlando, who fell to 14-32 on the season with the eighth straight loss.

The Celtics put on a dizzying display of transition offense in the first half, taking turns making athletic plays.  Jason Terry led a first quarter charge with 7 early points as the Celtics opened up a seven point lead after one.  Kevin Garnett had his fade away jumper working in the second period as Boston slowed the pace and went in at halftime leading by 11.

Orlando came out with energy in the third, trimming the lead down to one possession before Jeff Green and Courtney Lee sparked a 15-5 run to give the Celtics a 13 point lead to start the fourth, and the Celtics cruised from there, building the lead to as many as 23 points as Barbosa and Green led a 29-12 run, Barbosa with high, arching floaters and Green with driving layups and hammer dunks

Chris Wilcox was a beast in clogging the middle and Avery Bradley logged his usual brilliant fly paper defense as the Magic were held to just 37% shooting.

Boston now looks to build upon their 3 game winning streak when they host the Los Angeles Clippers in a Sunday afternoon matinee, and it will be interesting to see how their new-found athleticism stacks up against perhaps the most athletic team in the league.

The Green will then have a couple of days off to try and gain a little traction from the craziness of this past week before flying to Toronto to tip off against the Raptors on Wednesday.

Orlando has little time to lick their wounds, as they have to catch a red-eye to Milwaukee for a Saturday night matchup with the Bucks then fly to Philadelphia for a Monday night scrap with the 76ers before returning home to face the Clippers on Wednesday.

The game was so far out of reach that for the first time this season there was a Fab Melo sighting at the Garden – actually in a game and not in street clothes on the sidelines.  Really.

Who’d have thunk it?  Times are strange at TD Garden these days – no Rondo, Sully on the mend, Fab Melo getting into a game…what’s next?  Scalabrine?

Tags: Boston Celtics Los Angeles Clippers Milwaukee Bucks Orlando Magic Philadelphia 76ers Toronto Raptors

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