With the Boston Celtics ahead 66-51 in the third quarter, I texted my brother,” All we needed was KG. We’re back.”
“I know. They’re back,” Jay responded.
With 41 seconds left, J.J. Redick dribbled off a screen and hit a 27-footer to tie the game at 94. With 1.3 seconds left, Rashard Lewis drove by a stunningly immobile Garnett for the game-winning layup, 96-94.
Whoops. A little premature.
Dwight Howard forced Kendrick Perkins into foul trouble in the second half, and the floodgates opened for the Orlando Magic. Both Howard and Rashard Lewis had huge second halves to lead the Magic comeback, adding 19 points and 10 rebounds and 23 points and 8 rebounds, respectively.
Ray Allen broke out of his slump in a big way, starting the game 8-8 FG, 3-3 FT, on his way to 20 points. But Allen missed his last four shots, and neither Garnett ( 6 points, 7 rebounds) nor Paul Pierce ( 12 points 3-12 FG) were able to pick up the scoring load in the second half. Garnett looked hobbled all night, and on the last play of the game hardly even attempted to guard Lewis. So much for leading the team back.
What makes the loss even more agonizing, on top of a DEEP Redick 3 and an easy, game-winning layup for Orlando, is that Boston held the lead for most of the game.
Boston led 51-40 at the half behind a great first half from the Celtics bench, especially Rasheed Wallace, who finished with 17 points, and Eddie House, who added 10. The Boston bench totaled 41 bench points overall.
Redick led the Magic bench with 11 of their 31 bench points. Boston lost, despite Vince Carter shooting 2-13, for 6 points, and Dwight Howard missing 7 of 10 free throws.
Boston’s murderers’ row continues tomorrow night in Atlanta against the Hawks, and Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Lakers at the Garden. Atlanta is 3-0 vs. Boston this season, while Boston and LA will meet for this first time.