By Gethin Coolbaugh
BOSTON – There was nothing more that the Boston Celtics wanted in Game 4 than a win.
Unfortunately, so did the Orlando Magic.
Dwight Howard had 32 points and 16 rebounds and Jameer Nelson added 23 points and nine assists as Orlando pushed off elimination for another day with a 96-92 overtime win over Boston on Monday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden.
Howard made 13-of-19 shots from the field and 6-of-14 free throws while Nelson connected on 7-of-14 field goals and 3-of-6 three pointers to pace Orlando.
Boston had a chance to win the game in regulation, as the Celtics put the ball in captain Paul Pierce’s hands with less than 10 seconds to go, but Pierce lost control as time expired, forcing overtime with the score tied at 86.
Neither team scored in the first three minutes and 16 seconds of overtime until Nelson drained a three to put Orlando up 89-86 with 2:43 remaining. Nelson hit another crucial three with 1:59 left to give the Magic a 92-86 lead.
Ray Allen, who finished with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting (5-of-7 from three-point range) and five rebounds, cut the Magic lead to three at 92-89 with a 23-foot three pointer from the let corner with 1:46 remaining.
The magic fed the ball to Howard in the post with 1:30 left, but he was blocked by Glen Davis (6 points, 7 rebounds) on a dunk attempt but put it back and was fouled to give Orlando the 94-89 advantage.
Allen kept the Celtics in the game with another critical three-pointer with 1:13 remaining to cut the Magic lead to 94-92.
But Howard put back a Nelson miss with 52.7 seconds left to give the Magic the 96-92 lead which sealed the victory.
Pierce, who finished tied Howard with a game-high 32 points and also had 11 rebounds and three assists, had two wide open three-point attempts with less than 20 seconds, but missed both.
Kevin Garnett had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Rajon Rondo added nine points, eight assists, three rebounds and three steals.
Kendrick Perkins did not make a field goal and had three points and four rebounds, Rasheed Wallace scored four points and missed all four of his three-point attempts and Ton Allen scored two points.
Rashard Lewis chipped in with 13 points and Matt Barnes added 10 points and seven rebounds for Orlando. J.J. Reddick paced the Magic bench with 12 points, connecting on 3-of-5 three point attempts.
Vince Carter, who has been struggling all series, only mustered three points, four rebounds and also had three fouls.
Boston made 32-of-76 shots to shoot 42.1% from the floor and connected on 5-of-18 three pointers (27.8%) and 23-of-30 free throws (76.7%).
Orlando hit 33-of-74 shots to shoot 44.6% from the floor and made 10-of-28 three pointers (35.7%) and 20-of-33 free throws (60.%).
The Celtics had 47 rebounds, 19 assists, 15 turnovers and 10 steals while the Magic totaled 43 rebounds, 19 assists, 19 turnovers and five steals.
Both teams had a plethora of fouls, as Boston committed 30 fouls and Orlando had 27.
The series shifts back to Amway Arena as Orlando hosts Boston in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. EST (TV/Radio: ESPN/WEEI).
Gethin Coolbaugh is the Associate Editor of Boston Sports U18. He can be reached at 774-279-1995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit Gethin Coolbaugh’s official website and follow Gethin Coolbaugh on Twitter.