Thursday's game between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics was special for Mickael Pietrus.
Ray Allen's absence elevated Pietrus into the Celtics' starting lineup for the first time since Pietrus joined the team. Thursday also was Pietrus' first game at Amway Center since the Magic included him in a blockbuster trade with the Phoenix Suns on Dec. 18, 2010.
Being back meant something to him.
"I love it," he said.
"That's a franchise I did a lot for, and they decided to trade me, and there was nothing I could do about it. But I'm very happy to be back and very happy to see my teammates from the Magic, Stan [Van Gundy] and the fans. They mean a lot to me."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Pietrus is showing flashes of what made him so valuable to the Magic during the 2009 playoffs. Pietrus has provided quality defense on the wing, and the Celtics are urging him to drive to the hoop instead of settling for 3s.
"He's a great spirit," Rivers said. "The guy likes basketball and he plays hard. I'll take that all day."
Bass scoresAnother former Magic player seems to have found a home in Boston.
Brandon Bass, who had a rare start for Boston on Thursday, entered the game averaging 11.9 points and 6.5 rebounds.
During his time in Orlando, Bass earned a reputation as someone who looked for his own shot so often that other teams nicknamed him "No Pass Bass."
But Rivers said he loves what Bass brings to the Celtics.
"We needed a knockdown shooter from the elbows, because with Paul [Pierce], Ray and [Rajon] Rondo and Kevin [Garnett], defenses always are helping," Rivers said. "And when you swing it to the top, you need a guy that is pretty aggressive offensively, and Brandon is.
"We want him to shoot," Rivers added. "I tell him, 'I'll tell you when to pass,' which probably, for him, he's never heard that word. But that's good for us."
Digging at DwightThe Celtics arguably do better than any team at impeding Dwight Howard's progress down the floor and preventing him from establishing deep post position.
But Van Gundy doesn't accept the notion that the Celtics do anything more than other teams to try and get into Howard's head.
That said, Van Gundy noted that Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers' Andrew Bynum endure more physical play than perhaps anyone else.
"You've got to understand what those two guys are up against," Van Gundy said. "They're up against guys that it doesn't matter to their teams if they get in foul trouble. It doesn't matter. So they can play very, very, very physically.
"We need Dwight on the floor. I mean, if we could let Dwight guard people the way people guard him, I'm not sure anyone would ever score in the post. Ever. But we can't afford that because we need him on the floor."
Layups• Forbes magazine has released its latest list of NBA franchise values. The Magic ranked 11th out of the 30 teams at $385 million.
• The Magic honored Dwight Howard before tipoff for becoming the franchise's career scoring leader. Howard surpassed Nick Anderson's team record Tuesday. Owner Rich DeVos, CEO Alex Martins, General Manager Otis Smith and Anderson presented Howard with a plaque and the game ball from the record-setting game.
• Rondo (sprained right wrist) and Jermaine O'Neal (bruised knee) did not play for Boston. So, including Allen, the C's were missing three usual starters.
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