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Magic top Celtics to climb above .500

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The Orlando Magic defeated the Boston Celtics, 110-91 on Sunday at the Amway Arena. With the victory, the Magic moved to within two games of the Southeast Division-leading Miami Heat.

Orlando was led in scoring by Victor Oladipo, who contributed 19 points, 6 assists and 8 rebounds off the bench. Two recorded double-doubles. Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 10 rebounds while Tobias Harris had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Isiah Thomas led Boston with 20 points and 7 assists. Avery Bradley added 17 and Jae Crowder chipped in 12.

Orlando improved to 9-8 on the season and marked the first time the Magic went over the .500 mark this season. Since starting the season 0-3, they have won 9 of 14 games.

After a see-saw first period, the Magic settled for a 21-20 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes. Orlando slowly increased the lead and went to the locker room with a 53-45 advantage at halftime.

The third quarter saw the Magic maintain an 8-12 point lead, before making a strong close to the period. Andrew Nicholson’s jumper extended the lead to 77-61 with 2:18 remaining in the quarter. Shabazz Napier hit a three-pointer that sent the Magic to an 84-77 lead entering the final period.

Boston briefly cut the lead to 12 midway through the fourth quarter, but were never able to mount a serious threat.

The Celtics shot only 41 percent from the field and a woeful 5 for 27, or 18 percent, on three-pointers. Orlando shot 48 percent from the field and 9 for 25, or 36 percent, on three-point shots.

Magic Coach Scott Skiles entered his first season expressing the need to dramatically improve the team’s defensive performance and rebounding. Orlando has held opponents under 100 points in 11 of the team’s 16 games.

They are sixth in the league in defensive field goal percentage. Through the first 17 games, the Magic are fourth in the NBA in rebounding. They outrebounded the Celtics, 54-34 on Sunday.

Orlando now hits the road for a five game Western Conference swing beginning Tuesday with games in Minnesota, Utah, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver and Phoenix.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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