Celtics take series lead


ORLANDO, May 17 – Ray Allen scored 25 points, Paul Pierce finished with 22 as the Boston Celtics held on to beat the Orlando Magic 92-88 in game one of their NBA semi-final series on Sunday.Rasheed Wallace scored 13 points as Boston built a 20-point lead, then blunted a late Orlando rally to snap the Magic’s 14-game winning streak.

"There were stretches in the season, we know each other so well now, where we were becoming less patient with each other," Allen said. "We were getting on each other a little too much. We can take it, but we respected each other.

"When we started the playoffs, we said teams are going to hit us, they’re going to attack us. But when somebody scores on us, which they will, we go get the ball out and come back."

The next game in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday back in Orlando.

Vince Carter finished with 23 points and Jameer Nelson scored 20 for Orlando, which slashed the Celtics lead to just two in the final seconds.

But the Magic, who had a six-day break between series, eventually ran out of time.

Giant centre Dwight Howard was held to 13 points and 12 rebounds.

"I don’t think it was rusty. Just anxious," Howard said. "We dug ourselves a hole, and it was tough to get back from."

The Celtics built a 15-point lead in the second quarter and watched it disappear with Howard on the bench. Backup Marcin Gortat had two layups and a dunk to help the Magic end the half with Boston in front 41-32.

The Magic lost for the first time since April 2 at San Antonio.

"Our guys aren’t going to like fall apart," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Hell, they got down 20 in this game and they didn’t collapse. That’s not our team. This is all about winning. Our team doesn’t have to prove they can bounce back from adversity and all of that. They’ve done all that."