Wizards

Pierce, Garnett lead Celtics over Magic 97-84

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Pierce, Garnett lead Celtics over Magic 97-84

BOSTON (AP) Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett each had a double-double, and the Boston Celtics responded to yet another blow to their lineup with a 97-84 win Friday night over the Orlando Magic, who lost their eighth straight game.

Pierce had 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists despite sitting out the fourth quarter. Garnett finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who learned early in the day that promising rookie Jared Sullinger will miss the rest of the season following back surgery.

The short-handed Celtics also lost All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo this week, yet won their third straight and got back to .500 at 23-23.

Courtney Lee had 14 points and five assists for Boston. Jeff Green scored 17 points.

J.J. Redick had 15 points and five assists and Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 14 rebounds to lead Orlando, which is dealing with injury problems that rival those of the Celtics. The Magic were without their top two scorers in Aaron Afflalo (calf) and Glen Davis (broken left foot), then lost point guard Jameer Nelson to a bruised left forearm. Nelson, who averages 7.4 assists and is third on the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game, did not play in the second half.

The depleted Magic still managed to push the Celtics through much of the game, taking advantage of 15 turnovers and some shaky free throw shooting as Boston went 9 for 14 from the foul line.

Orlando had been chipping away at the lead in the third quarter, pulling to 57-54 on E'Twaun Moore's three-point play with 5:04 left in the period. Boston slowly rebuilt the lead with a few short runs, then broke open the game in the fourth when the weary Magic wilted defensively.

Pierce scored the last four points of the third quarter, putting the Celtics up 72-59 and starting a 10-0 run for Boston. The Celtics opened the fourth quarter 7 for 9, including a series of dunks by Lee and Green during an 8-2 spurt that extended the lead to 86-63.

Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa scored 12 each for the Celtics, who had six players in double figures.

Andrew Nicholson and Moore finished with 14 apiece for the Magic.

NOTES: Boston has won seven straight regular-season games against the Magic. ... Boston had 30 assists. ... The Magic were 1 for 13 on 3-pointers in the first half. ... Orlando has not won since beating Indiana on Jan. 16.

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Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

As a member of the Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal has had many battles with LeBron James over the years, first with the Miami Heat and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Over the weekend, Beal got to experience having James as a teammate for the first time at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

It was an eye-opening endeavor. Beal got to see up close and personal James' abilities and his routine to maximize them. In a group of the best players on the planet, James stood out.

"It was surreal at first, just being around all the guys," Beal said. "Even just being on his team for two days, that was an unbelievable experience."

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Beal, 24, is six seasons in to his NBA career and from experience has learned how to train for the rigors of an 82-game regular season. What James does at 33 years old to stay in peak form, however, is next level.

"To see his preparation, his focus and his mentality and what he does to take care of his body before and after games," Beal said. "That's the true testament to a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play the game."

James actually assisted Beal's first points in the All-Star Game, a two-handed dunk in the first quarter. James attacked the rim on a fastbreak to draw attention, then found Beal with a dump-off pass for an easy bucket.

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

It was an example of James' tricks of the trade. He is not just the most athletic player on the court, he is also the smartest when it comes to the game of basketball.

"His approach and his leadership and everything, it's top notch. It's crazy because you always play against him and to play with him, you get experience the other side of it," Beal said.

Beal, however, did note that much of what he gleaned from James was by watching him. At the end of the day, they are competitors and James isn't going to give away all of his secrets.

"He's not disclosing that information," Beal joked.

The Wizards happen to play James and the Cavs in their first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday night. Once again, Beal will be on the other side. 

RELATED: 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT HAS LOADED CLASS

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Walt Williams talks Wizards, his NBA career and life after basketball

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NBC Sports Washington

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Walt Williams talks Wizards, his NBA career and life after basketball

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes was joined by former NBA player Walt Williams for a wide-ranging discussion. Williams talked about the Wizards, his show on NBC Sports Washington and his playing career.

Williams also projected the NBA prospects of Maryland Terrapins stars Bruno Fernando and Kevin Huerter.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!