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Paul Pierce scored 24 points and dished out 10 assists as the Boston Celtics came back from down 27 in the first half to roll past Orlando 91-83 at the amway Center last night. ETwaun Moore added 16 off the bench including a perfect 4/4 from 3 point range while Kevin Garnett and Mickael Pietrus each contributed 12. The Celtics shot 47% overall including 10/21 (48%) from 3 point range despite committing 17 turnovers. They outscored the Magic 54-25 in the second half and scored 15 of the first 16 points in the 4th quarter. Orlando shot 57% in the first half en route to a 58-37 halftime lead but finished making just 38% of their shots overall. All 5 Orlando starters scored in double figures led by Dwight Howard with 16 points along with 16 rebounds. Jason Richardson added 13 and Ryan Anderson contributed 12. The Magic converted only 5/17 (29%) from 3 point range and made only 18/31 (58%) of their free throws. The Celtics have won three straight for just the second time this season. It also was their fourth consecutive victory over the Magic, dating to last season. Since a season-best, five-game winning streak, the Magic have lost three times in five games, including a 31-point defeat at Boston on Monday. The Celtics disrupted the Magic's offensive flow in the fourth, so much so that it led to a pair of late, frustration technical fouls on Howard and Anderson. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said tempers boiled up so much that it got to a point where players were simply driving to the basket trying to make plays on their own.
Blake Griffin scored 20 points, pulled down 9 rebounds and dished out 8 assists as the first place LA Clippers held off Memphis 98-91 at the Staples Center. Griffin shot 8/14 (57%) from the field and nearly notched a triple double. Chris Paul and Mo Williams each added 18 for the Clips and Caron Butler contributed 17. LA shot 49% overall despite committing 17 turnovers and shot 9/22 (41%) from 3 point range. Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 24 points but committed 7 of his team's 18 turnovers. Marc Gasol added 18 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out 6 assists. OJ Mayo and Tony Allen each conrtibuted 14 but were a combined 6/28 (21%) from the field. Memphis shot just 36% despite winning the battle of the boards 42-37. The Clippers' new nucleus is still learning how to respond to adversity, and Paul thinks this gritty victory against a strong playoff contender should help. The Clippers stayed atop the Pacific Division even during Paul's absence, and they bounced back solidly from Wednesday's emotional loss to the Lakers, but a tougher schedule looms for a franchise with only one winning season in 19 years. No team in the Western Conference has played fewer games than the Clippers -- including 11 in front of sellout home crowds. Gasol's two free throws trimmed the Clippers' lead to 91-89, but Butler hit a driving layup, and Paul made two free throws after a steal with 45 seconds left. Although Griffin didn't score in the fourth quarter, the Clippers scored seven consecutive points in the final minute to seal their third straight win over Memphis.