Celtics' skid continues with tough loss to Magic, 103-95


BOSTON – The script was an all-too familiar one for the Boston Celtics. 

They would spend most of the game trailing, make a surge in the second half and come away with the win. 

Only problem? 

They dug themselves such a deep hole – they trailed by 19 points going into the fourth – that they needed to play near-flawless basketball in order to rally for the win. 

And down the stretch, Boston was far from perfect which ultimately led to a disappointing 103-95 loss to the Orlando. 

Kyrie Irving led all players with 40 points with Jaylen Brown (17 points) and Marcus Morris (12 points) the only other Celtics to score in double figures. 

Orlando was led by Elfrid Payton’s 22 points on 9-for-16 shooting, along with strong games from Evan Fournier (19 points) and Aaron Gordon who had his 10th double-double of the season with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Boston (34-13) now heads out for a four-game West coast trip riding a three-game losing streak, the first time all season the Celtics have dropped three in a row. 

It also snapped a 13-game winning streak at home against the Magic (14-32). 

Boston came within 98-91 following an Irving basket, but could never put together enough defensive stops or made baskets to get any closer. 

The second half had the look of the first two quarters of play, with the Magic as the Boston Celtics’ highly regarded defense continuing its disappearing act. 

But unlike the first two quarters, there would be no last-minute surge in the third. 

Orlando dominated Boston’s defense for the entire quarter which ended with the Magic holding a commanding 90-71 lead going into the fourth. 

Orlando shot better than 50 percent throughout the first half, and showed no signs of letting up in the third quarter as they opened the quarter with an 11-2 run capped off by a short hook shot in the paint by Bismack Biyombo. 

Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a time-out with 8:57 remaining in the third. 

The first quarter was all about Boston’s starting backcourt of Irving and Brown.

Irving, who did not play in Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia due to a sore left shoulder, looked like a man who benefited greatly from the addition time off. 

He scored 10 of Boston’s first 14 points and had 15 by the end of the first quarter. 

But the Celtics’ offense sputtered greatly after he left the game with Boston ahead 25-20. 

Orlando went on an 8-2 run to put the Magic back on top. 

However, a last-second steal and subsequent lay-up by Terry Rozier put Boston ahead 29-28 after the first. 

Orlando began to surge ahead in the second behind a 13-4 run that put them ahead 45-37.

Boston would spend the rest of the quarter playing catch-up, and were within 58-57 following a 3-pointer by Irving. 

The Celtics once again forced a last-second turnover that they converted into points as Morris’ driving lay-up was goal-tended with 3.1 seconds to play in the half. 

That would serve as the final points of the half which ended with Boston ahead 59-58.


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