ORLANDO, Fla. – The Boston Celtics might just roll back to the NBA finals if they keep this up.

Paul Pierce scored 28 points, Rajon Rondo had 25 and the Boston Celtics again avoided a late collapse to take a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference finals with a 95-92 victory over the Orlando Magic in Game 2 on Tuesday night.

Boston bullied and bruised its way to a 2-0 series lead on the road against a Magic team that had won 14 straight until this series. The Celtics held the Magic to 39 percent shooting.

After being hampered by injuries for much of the season, often showing their age, the Celtics are now just two wins away from their second finals appearance in three seasons.

“I think we are becoming the team that started the season,” Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. “The team that started the season was pretty good.”

Dwight Howard had 30 points, and Vince Carter and J.J. Redick scored 16 apiece for the Magic, who overcame an 11-point deficit to take a brief lead in the fourth. They couldn’t hold it.

Jameer Nelson’s desperation 3-pointer missed the rim at the buzzer.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Boston.

“Our fans won’t let us relax,” Pierce said. “We’re going to try and close it out in four games.”

The Celtics buckled down enough to hold on in this one.

Ahead 11 points to start the fourth quarter, that almost wasn’t enough. The Magic, just as they did in Game 1, found their rhythm late.

They went on a 13-4 run to trim Boston’s lead to 85-83 with about six minutes left. Carter’s jumper with 4:05 left gave Orlando a 90-89 lead with 3:35 remaining, and then the Celtics summoned their championship form again.

Kevin Garnett and Rondo made back-to-back jumpers, and after Nelson made a layup, Pierce hit two free throws that put Boston up by three.

Carter missed two free throws with 31.9 seconds left that cost Orlando dearly.

Two years removed from their 17th NBA title, the Celtics, once thought too old to contend for another title, have found their footing again. After ousting LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team with the league’s best record, Boston is showing no signs of stopping.

“Just think our mind-set was to be ready for the type of intensity they would bring after losing at home,” Pierce said.

Before the final heave, Redick also made a crucial mistake by dribbling to half court before calling timeout. That wasted crucial seconds and forced the Magic to take the ball out from beyond half court.

The result was a shot that didn’t reach the rim.

“It would have made a big difference,” Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said.

 

NOTES: The NBA is investigating an incident between referee Joe DeRosa and a fan at halftime. DeRosa was walking to the scorer’s table to get the warm-up jackets for his crew, a common practice before the trio of referees leave the floor at intermission. A fan behind the table approached DeRosa, gesturing with his arms and appearing to be shouting at the veteran official.

DeRosa flipped the game ball to the fan, who tossed it back. DeRosa then motioned for the man to be ejected by security.

The NBA said only that it was reviewing the matter.