BOSTON (AP) – Jameer Nelson scored nine of his 16 points in the final 9:52 of the fourth quarter and Dwight Howard blocked Mark Blount’s potential game-tying shot with 12 seconds left Monday night, helping the Orlando Magic beat the Boston Celtics 87-83 for their fourth straight win.

Steve Francis led the Magic with 19 points and DeShawn Stevenson had 11. Howard had a double-double, with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Ricky Davis led the Celtics with 22 points, and Paul Pierce had 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Orlando led 83-81 when Blount took a pass in the lane, but Howard got a piece of it before the shot could be released.

Hedo Turkoglu hit two free throws with 9.3 seconds left, stretching Orlando’s lead to 85-81. After Davis hit a jumper, Turkoglu hit two more from the line with 4.8 seconds left to seal it.

Francis’ twisting scoop shot had moved Orlando ahead 71-69 with 8:35 to play. After Nelson made a jumper, he stole ball away from Dan Dickau and coasted in with a breakaway layup, pushing the Magic’s lead to six with 7:28 left.

They made it 79-71 on Howard’s two free throws with 4:56 to go.

Boston then closed it to 83-81 on Delonte West’s two free throws with 1:30 left. After Pat Garrity missed a jumper with just over a minute to play, Davis missed badly with a baseline jumper that would have tied it.

Neither team held more than a four-point edge in the third quarter, with Orlando holding a 64-63 lead heading to the final period.

The Magic led 47-45 at halftime.

Notes: Boston’s Al Jefferson left the floor with a mild concussion late in the first quarter after banging heads with Howard. He returned in the second half. … Before the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers compared Howard’s skills to former San Antonio star David Robinson. … West returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a bruised left hip. … Blount played after being benched the entire game in Friday’s win over Charlotte.

AP-ES-11-28-05 2228EST


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