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Celtics-Magic Game Blog: First Quarter

We are live from the Garden for tonight’s big game between the Orlando Magic [1] and the Boston Celtics [2]. The Magic are 13-4, but a little shorthanded, having to play without their starting backcourt of Jameer Nelson and Mickael Pietrus [3], as well as backup swing man Keith Bogans.

Ageless veteran Anthony Johnson has been starting in Jameer’s place, and has played well, but can he stick with Rajon Rondo [4] for 36 minutes? Can Kendrick Perkins [5] keep the league’s leading rebounder, Dwight Howard [6], off the glass? Will JJ Redick [7] get booed? Will answer those questions, and more, tonight.

FIRST QUARTER WRAP: After one, the Celtics have a commanding 28-18 lead. Everything went right for the C’s in the first 12 minutes–they shot 60 percent, Orlando shot 26, and they limited Orlando on the boards. Ray Allen [8] scored nine points and Rajon Rondo had eight points, three rebounds and four assists, while Dwight Howard missed all four of his shots and had one point.

Over to Jess for the second…

— The Celtics are going to collapse on Howard all night. If that kid ever puts it all together they might as well cancel the league.

Stan Van Gundy [9] was talking before the game about the challenges that Anthony Johnson faces tonight in trying to keep up with Rajon Rondo. Basically, Johnson is Orlando’s only point guard so he’s playing even more minutes that Jameer Nelson did as the starter. That’s a lot to ask of a 34-year-old. We’ll see how that plays out in the fourth quarter.

— Stan just got T’d up. My money would have been on Doc or Pierce for first T of the night. Stan was apparently arguing the dimensions of the coach’s box, among other things.

— No one’s happy tonight it seems. Stan is still arguing with the refs, by the way. The Magic are shooting 3-for-13 to start and it’s not like they’ve been jacking 3-pointers, either.

— Ray’s feeling it. He saw he had a rookie, Courtney Lee [10], on him and he just tuned him up. This is the best Celtics start I can remember.

— J.J. Redick played a fairly benign seven minutes (no points, no shots, two rebounds) and largely escaped notice from the crowd. We’ve heard from Brian Scalabrine [11] about how the crowd cheering at strange times has affected him at times. I wonder how the crowd barely noticing him affects Redick since every move he made in college was met with outright hostility.

— Jess just pointed out that Howard had a withering glare for Johnson after that alley-oop to Garnett.

— That dunk by Tony Battie was made possible by the Celtics aggressively challenging Turkoglu on the perimeter. It was up to Hedo to find him with two guys in his face, and he did. You can beat the Celtics D, but you have to be willing to withstand pressure and make the right pass.