Howard, Magic force Game 7

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ORLANDO, Fla. --- The pressure is back on the defending champions.

Dwight Howard had 23 points and 22 rebounds after challenging Stan Van Gundy's coaching strategy, and the Orlando Magic beat the Boston Celtics 83-75 on Thursday night to force a decisive Game 7.

Rashard Lewis had 20 points, and Hedo Turkoglu made a 3-pointer to highlight an 11-2 run to close the game for the Magic, who haven't made it to the conference finals since 1996.

"We came out from the get-go ready to play. That's what it takes," Howard said. "It's all about defense and we played great defense."

Rajon Rondo had 19 points, 16 rebounds and six assists, and Paul Pierce scored 17 for the Celtics, who led by 10 in the second half before falling apart. Game 7 is Sunday in Boston.

The Celtics also failed to close out the Chicago Bulls in Game 6 of their first-round series, a triple-overtime epic. Boston will now go the distance in its first two series for the second year in a row.

The Celtics held the Magic scoreless for more than five minutes to start the third quarter, building a 10-point lead on a jumper by Glen Davis. But Howard led the Magic back, with a backspin alley-oop from Turkoglu that highlighted a spurt to end the third quarter. Orlando took its first lead with 8:38 to go.

Pierce hit three jumpers to give Boston a 73-72 lead with about 4 minutes to play, but the Celtics were done in by their 3-for-18 shooting from 3-point range and 19 turnovers.

 
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