BOSTON — The Celtics moved a win away from their second NBA Finals trip in three years, and the defending Eastern Conference champions barely put up a fight.
Backup Glen "Big Baby" Davis scored 17, and Rajon Rondo added 11 points and 12 assists Saturday to lead the Celtics to a 94-71 win over the Magic and a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven East finals.
No NBA team has lost a playoff series after winning the first three games.
The Magic has to win Game 4 on Monday to avoid a sweep and force the series back to Orlando. It'll need a better effort than in Game 3, when it fell behind early for the third straight game. This time, it didn't mount a late charge to make it close.
"We got hit early in the game. I just didn't think we stayed with the fight," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We were a step late on everything. They just riddled us."
One game after scoring 30, Dwight Howard had seven and seven rebounds. Rashard Lewis was disappointing, scoring four on 2-of-8 shooting, missing all four 3-point attempts. Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson had 15 apiece.
Paul Pierce — the NBA Finals MVP two years ago when the Celtics won their record 17th championship — had 15 points and nine rebounds. Ray Allen scored 14 and Kevin Garnett added 10 in just 24 minutes. But this time it wasn't the aging new Big Three that did the damage; it was the two youngest players.
Rondo and Davis gave the Celtics energy and defense that the Magic couldn't match, diving to the floor for loose balls and getting the crowd going with spectacular plays.
Rondo outhustled Jason Williams down the court for a loose ball in the second quarter, diving to take it away, then getting up to beat him again for the layup. Davis celebrated one play underneath the basket with an ecstatic but odd session of running in place; the crowd went wild.
The Celtics scored the first seven points of the game, then scored 14 in a row later in the first quarter to open a 21-6 lead. Howard missed his first four shots, along with a pair of free throws, before he made one of two foul shots in the final seconds of the first quarter to cut the deficit to 27-12.
It was the third straight time the Celtics opened a big lead, but in each of the first two games Orlando eliminated most of the deficit to get within a single basket. This one got worse.
|Celtics lead series 3-0|
ORLANDO (71): Barnes 1-2 0-0 2, Lewis 2-8 0-0 4, Howard 3-10 1-4 7, Nelson 5-14 2-2 15, Carter 5-12 4-4 15, Redick 3-5 2-2 9, J.Williams 1-4 2-2 5, Pietrus 3-6 4-4 12, Gortat 0-2 0-0 0, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Bass 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 24-65 15-18 71.
BOSTON (94): Pierce 6-12 1-2 15, Garnett 4-6 2-2 10, Perkins 3-7 0-0 6, Rondo 4-14 3-7 11, R.Allen 6-13 0-0 14, T.Allen 1-1 2-2 4, Davis 5-9 7-9 17, Wallace 4-6 0-0 10, Finley 0-1 0-0 0, Daniels 1-3 4-4 6, Robinson 0-1 1-2 1, S.Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-73 20-28 94.
3-Point Goals—Orlando 8-30 (Nelson 3-9, Pietrus 2-5, J.Williams 1-3, Redick 1-3, Carter 1-5, Anderson 0-1, Lewis 0-4), Boston 6-11 (Wallace 2-3, Pierce 2-4, R.Allen 2-4). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Orlando 41 (Howard 7), Boston 50 (Pierce 9). Assists—Orlando 10 (Carter, Barnes, Redick 2), Boston 23 (Rondo 12). Total Fouls—Orlando 25, Boston 20. Technicals—Howard, Perkins. A—18,624.
Suns try to stem wave of Laker options
PHOENIX — Lakers fans chanted "Bring on Boston!" before Game 1 and after Game 2 of the Western finals.
Los Angeles scored 128 and 124 points to go up 2-0 in the series and brings an eight-game playoff winning streak to Phoenix, where the Suns hope playing at home tonight will help slow the defending NBA champions.
Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry can understand Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol having big games. He is confounded that Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Jordan Farmar has done so as well.
"It's almost like being a dike, you stick a finger in one hole and water comes out of another one," Gentry said. "We've just got to find a way to have a whole lot of fingers, I guess."
Cuban fined $100K: Billionaire Mavs owner Mark Cuban was fined $100,000 by the NBA for comments about free-agent-to-be LeBron James that Cuban made in an interview on a CNN website. The NBA warned executives and owners in the past that fines up to $1 million can be levied for those who tamper with free agents before July 1, when they officially hit the market.
Suns president Steve Kerr was fined $10,000 for the same infraction on a radio show.