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Fouling and frustrating Orlando early, the Celtics smothered Howard defensively. The aggressive play paralyzed the Magic at the start.
Only a few minutes into the game, Pierce was called for a foul on Howard after a a hard hack to prevent him from an easy dunk. Matt Barnes took offense, said something to Pierce and the two went nose-to-nose at full pitch. Each was whistled for a technical foul.
The Celtics got Howard in foul trouble and built a 13-point lead in the second quarter with Orlando's big man on the bench. The Magic got within six before Brian Scalabrine made a 3-pointer, Allen hit two from beyond the arc before the half and then hit two straight shots -- including another 3-pointer -- to start the third quarter and stretch Boston's lead to 56-40.
"We should've been in control but I never felt like we were because of the way we were playing," Rivers said. "I think with 6 minutes left in the third quarter I told the bench, 'We're in trouble.'"
Even after coming back from the win -- especially after a bad Christmas Day loss to Boston -- Van Gundy was reluctant to say that this could be a turning point.
"I know it's supposed to be a huge game, measuring stick, statement game, all the cliches. It's Game 46 in a regular season," Van Gundy said. "But it is good for us in terms of our development to be in these kind of games.
"We're starting to show more resilience and fight."
NOTES: The Magic wore their vintage black pinstripe uniforms. ... Rondo, who was voted a reserve to his first All-Star game Thursday, said the biggest goal he made in the offseason was to make the first-team defense.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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