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Celtics 95, Magic 88

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BOSTON — Evan Turner staged a one-man show in the closing minutes, and the rebuilding Boston Celtics continued an improbable run at a playoff berth with a come-from-behind 95-88 victory over the Orlando Magic Friday night.

The veteran guard scored 11 of his team’s last 16 points over the final 3:46 (nine of its 10 at one point). He also made a key defensive play and subsequent pass as the Celtics kept pace in what has become a three-team battle for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

With fellow guard Isaiah Thomas missing his second straight game with elbow and back bruises, Turner finished with a season-high 30 points. He also had five rebounds and four assists as Boston won for the fifth time in the last six games and improved to 8-3 in the last 11.

The Celtics trailed by as many as 11 in the second half and were down 83-79 when Turner caught fire.

Guard Phil Pressey, needed with Thomas out, had a season-high 10 assists and four rebounds to go with a season-high 10 points. Forward Kelly Olynyk had 13 points and five rebounds for the Celtics.

Rookie guard Elfrid Payton led the Magic, who rallied to beat the Celtics in Orlando last Sunday, with 20 points. But Payton, a 55.2-percent free-throw shooter coming in, was 4 of 15 from the line and was the victim of Boston fouling him on purpose late in the third quarter.

Center Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 11 rebounds and forward Tobias Harris added 16 points for the Magic, who went 0-3 on their road trip.

The game started slowly, but the Magic used an early 11-0 run to take an eight-point lead and were up by 10 after 9:04 of the game. But the home team charged back and caught up midway through the second quarter. However, Orlando ended the first half on an 8-2 run that restored the 10-point lead at the break.

Orlando was up to 11 with 2:15 of the third quarter.

The Celtics then began purposely fouling Payton, who obliged by continuing to struggle at the line as Boston closed the deficit to six at the end of the third quarter.

When Olynyk hit the first five points of the fourth quarter, the lead was down to one, but Orlando responded again. The lead was quickly back to eight with 6:57 left and the resilient Celtics rallied again.

The teams combined for 37 turnovers and shot 25 of 48 from the foul line. The Celtics were 10 of 26 from 3-point range.

NOTES: Boston G Isaiah Thomas, who missed his second straight game with back and elbow bruises, ran on a treadmill Friday and the hope is he can play Monday night after missing Saturday night’s game in Indiana. … G/F Evan Fournier missed his eighth straight game with a hip injury while G Willie Green was scratched with back spasms. … C Nikola Vucevic didn’t play against the Celtics last week because of an ankle injury but had 32 points and 19 rebounds in the two games since heading into Friday night. … Thursday marked the 30th anniversary of Larry Bird’s Celtics-record 60-point game against the Atlanta Hawks. Teammate Kevin McHale had set the team record with 56 points just nine days earlier. … The Magic host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night. … The crowd was delayed arriving because of long security lines after a TD Garden stabbing Wednesday night.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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