Kevin Garnett missed last season's playoff series against Orlando with a knee injury. Rasheed Wallace signed with Boston after it was over.
But the Magic made a key offseason pickup of its own.
Vince Carter scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, including a tiebreaking fadeaway with 2:33 left to give Orlando an 83-78 victory over the Celtics on Friday night in Boston.
Carter, who came to Orlando in the offseason as part of a five-player trade, took 29 shots, a season high and his most in almost three years.
“I’m just glad I was able to deliver,” he said. “This type of basketball game, you don’t want to let down. This is what it’s all about. This is the bar. It’s great to see we were able to buckle down and persevere.”
Rashard Lewis had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Dwight Howard grabbed 15 boards and Mickael Pietrus added 14 points for Orlando, which won the rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinal for its fourth consecutive victory.
“This is a big game for us, a confidence booster,” Lewis said. “We rode Vince a lot tonight.”
Paul Pierce scored 21 points, Garnett scored 13 with 11 rebounds and Ray Allen had 15 points for the Celtics, who have lost three of their last four games and three of five at home. Wallace had 13 rebounds, but he was 0-for-8 from 3-point range and Boston was 2-of -9 from beyond the arc as a team to contribute to a 34.5 percent overall shooting percentage.
“I think that our team is playing awful,” coach Doc Rivers said.
The New York Knicks won’t sign Allen Iverson, saying any short-term gain would hinder their plans to build for the future. … Tracy McGrady says he is ready to play. The Houston Rockets say he’ll have to wait. The seven-time All-Star had microfracture surgery on his left knee in February, but believes he’s good enough to get back on the court. Houston coach Rick Adelman says it’s too soon for McGrady to return, admitting there’s a difference of opinion. … Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut will be out for two to four weeks with a left leg injury. … Clippers longtime play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler and color analyst Michael Smith were suspended one game by the Fox Sports Prime Ticket cable network for perceived insensitive comments about Memphis center Hamed Haddad from Iran.