BOSTON — There was no Kevin Garnett, no Rajon Rondo, and for a quarter-and-and-half, no Glen Davis.
But the visiting Orlando Magic had no sympathy yesterday for the Boston Celtics and the injuries suffered by the aforementioned trio. Orlando took it to the host Celtics in front of a sellout crowd at TD Banknorth Garden, coming away with an 86-79 victory in a battle between two of the league's elite teams.
The Magic (46-16) led by as much as 22 points in the contest, and led 51-33 at the half. They held the Celtics (49-15) to just 15 first-quarter points and maintained a double-figure lead for the majority of the game. Things didn't get uncomfortable for Orlando until Boston guard Ray Allen (32 points, nine rebounds) went on a personal 9-0 run in the final three minutes to cut the deficit to 82-79 with 1:22 left. But Allen later missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer and the Magic held the C's scoreless the rest of the way.
Garnett missed his eighth straight game with a knee injury, starting point guard Rondo was a game time scratch with a sprained right ankle and Davis, who started in place of Garnett, sprained his right ankle with 6:25 left in the third.
Nevertheless, Magic veteran reserve guard Tyronn Lue saw all things equal.
"I didn't play, and KG (Garnett) didn't play, so it's a wash," joked Lue while eating his postgame meal in the locker room after not playing due to a coach's decision.
But in all seriousness, the Magic were also playing without their starting point guard, all-star Jameer Nelson, who has been out since Feb. 4 with a shoulder injury. Also, All-NBA center Dwight Howard was only able to play 28 minutes due to foul trouble. But the super athletic 6-foot-11 big man still dominated the paint for the Magic with 18 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks — two of which were swatted into the third row for dramatic effect.