Rajon Rondo was in aggressive mode almost from the get-go… carrying the Celtics as they sleep-walked through the start of this one. The C's kept it close early even though Dwight Howard went off in the first quarter. Then in the second quarter, the C's woke up, started playing Celtics defense, and turned a double digit deficit into 3 point halftime lead. The second half was ALL Celtics… leading to a 91-80 C's win. Rondo finished with 26 points and 7 assists. Pierce had 18, KG had 16, and Ray finished with 11 (including two 3's. He needs four to break the record).
Believe it or not, it seems the Marquis injury energized the Celtics. Rondo, Perk and Paul all referenced it after the game. The C's were down 24-17 when Quis went down. They finished the half outscoring Orlando 29-19 and 74-56 the rest of the game.
Speaking of Marquis, here's the final word from the C's: He suffered a bruised spinal cord but no concussion. He can move just fine and is alert. He'll be out for a month or two. Expect a lot of Von Wafer in his absensce. The good news is, Delonte West says he expects to play in the first game after the All Star break… so that will help.
Glen Davis also bounced his head off the floor and had to leave for a while… but he returned and is OK. He had 11.
Orlando shot 30… THIRTY more shots than the C's. But the C's shot almost 48% while Orlando shot 34%… including 12.5% from 3 (3 of 24!). Just truly horrible. Credit the C's and Doc Rivers, though, for sticking to their defensive game plan while Dwight Howard when nuts in the first quarter. Kendrick Perkins said afterwards that he kinda forgot how to play Dwight… but once he got back into it, he and Baby really did some good work on him. Howard had 28 points… but he only hit one field goal in the second half and that was a garbage time dunk. The C's stuck to the shooters and didn't allow an open shot it seemed all game.
Orlando, meanwhile, has to figure things out. They made those trades to get guys who typically can drive or create their own shot…. and those guys are all standing on the outside chucking long range bombs. They're playing the same old Magic basketball with just a few new faces. If they don't adjust to their new personnel, they're going nowhere.
One final note: Dwight Howard had zero blocks. That's just not gonna get the job done.