Celtics top Magic


Published: Monday, January 27, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 27, 2003 at 1:14 a.m.

In Boston, Paul Pierce was relieved to learn just before Sunday's game that NBA scoring leader Tracy McGrady wouldn't play for Orlando. He was even happier after the first triple-double of his career.

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Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce, top, and Orlando Magic's Jacque Vaughn, bottom, battle for a loose ball in the third quarter in Boston, Sunday. The Celtics won 91-83.

AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki

``I'll take it,'' Pierce said of McGrady's absence. ``Who wants the leading scorer playing?''

Pierce had 27 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high 13 assists as the Boston Celtics beat the Magic 91-83.

McGrady missed the game to be with his fiance, who gave birth to a daughter Saturday night in an Orlando-area hospital. Jeryl Sasser started in his place and had a career-high 26 points with 10 rebounds and four steals.

``We hung in there and kept the game at our pace,'' Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. ``I don't think Pierce ever worked so hard for his points.''

He had to since the Magic didn't have to worry about guarding Antoine Walker, who missed his third straight game with a sprained right knee. Boston has won two of them and six of its last seven.

``I just took it upon myself to really elevate my game,'' Pierce said. ``I haven't had 13 assists since high school.''

Orlando made a late run, cutting the margin to 85-81 on Sasser's 3-pointer with 1:09 to go. Pierce then hit two free throws, but Pat Garrity made a basket for the Magic.

J.R. Bremer hit two free throws for Boston, but Orlando still had a chance until Mike Miller missed an 18-footer with 30 seconds left and Jacque Vaughn failed on a layup attempt with 23 seconds to go. Pierce then hit two free throws for the game's final points.

Orlando's starting forwards shot very poorly with Miller going 2-of-18 and Garrity 2-of-12.

``Sometimes that's what happens when you miss a few that you know are really contested,'' Garrity said. ``Open ones are even that much harder to make.''

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