BOSTON — Amnesia got the Celtics into trouble last night and amnesia will have to get them out of it.
Paul Pierce forgot that it was team basketball which got the Celtics to the brink of a sweep of the Orlando Magic and a spot in the NBA finals. He reverted to the pre-Big 3 days and shot, shot and shot some more.
The trigger-happy Pierce (11 of 25 shooting, 5 of 17 after the first half) killed the C's ball movement and the Green lost to the gritty Orlando Magic 96-92 in OT.
Boston leads the Eastern Conference final series 3-1 and will try to close it out tomorrow (8:30 p.m., ESPN) in Orlando.
The lack of ball movement gave the Magic life. To wipe out the newfound bounce in their step, the C's will have to forget about this one and play like they had been.
When asked if Boston was moving the ball crisply, Celtic swingman Michael Finley said, "Not at the end. We got a little stagnant. We got away from the game plan as far as sharing the ball.''
With Rajon Rondo reportedly a bit sub-par from either fatigue or a back spasm and at least playing sub-par (9 points, 8 assists), and Kevin Garnett seemingly playing scared (he passed up two wide-open shots in OT then fired the ball into Gucci row), maybe Pierce felt he was the only option.
But it looked like the bad old days of Pierce and Antoine Walker and three other guys afraid and/or unable to shoot.
Pierce missed a late shot then had a killer turnover in the final seconds of regulation. It got only worse in OT. He was 0 for 4 in the extra session including 0 for 3 from behind the arc.
Ray Allen hit two monster threes in OT, but Jameer Nelson matched him with two threes (one a banker!) and a Dwight Howard (32 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks) putback with 53 seconds left sealed it.