Friday, November 8, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Celtics 91, Magic 89
By Chris Forsberg
Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic 91-89 on Friday night at the Amway Center:
THE NITTY GRITTY
You'll hear the word "scrappy" used to describe this one (it's the polite way to say "ugly"). The Celtics shot 35.8 percent (34-of-95 overall) and the Magic weren't much better (39.8 percent) but turned the ball over 20 times, which led to 25 Boston points. The two teams combined for a ridiculous 35 offensive rebounds, which translated to an impossibly low 20 second-chance points (10 apiece). Regardless, the Celtics were down 12 early in the second quarter and -- keeping with the theme of the 2013-14 season -- rallied back. Following the more recent trend, they made some key plays down the stretch to win their second straight. Brandon Bass led six Boston players in double figures with 16 points, while Avery Bradley had 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals and a block. Arron Afflalo scored a game-high 23 points for the Magic.
The Celtics were clinging to a two-point lead with under 3 minutes to play when Jeff Green -- quiet for much of the night outside of a couple loud dunks -- swooped in for a well-timed putback. Bass blocked a shot at the other end and Jordan Crawford got a layup in transition as Boston led 86-80 with 2:32 to go. Some ill-timed shooting fouls helped Orlando make things interesting, with the Magic pulling within one with 26 ticks to go. Bass hit a couple pressure-cooker free throws, which were huge when Afflalo had his feet on the line while trying to tie the game from the corner with 4.6 seconds to go. Orlando fouled, Bradley made only one freebie, but rookie Victor Oladipo missed a 3-point heave at the buzzer.
C's WIN IT WITH DEFENSE, BALL SECURITY
The Celtics turned the ball over only 11 times for eight points. Combine that with some stifling defense and it allowed Boston to emerge despite its 35.8 percent clip from the floor (and 14.3 percent beyond the 3-point arc).
Crawford was a team-best plus-11 in plus/minus, turning in 13 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds over 30:36. ... Gerald Wallace was at the opposite end of the spectrum in a reserve role, finishing minus-13 on a foul-plagued night in which he finished with 2 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists over 19:52. ... Keith Bogans did not play and left the bench in the second quarter due to illness. ... Even with rookie Kelly Olynyk in foul trouble, Kris Humphries played only 52 seconds late in the first half. .... MarShon Brooks earned another DNP (his fifth in six games).
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics are streaking. After four tough-luck losses to start the season, the team is finding a way to make plays down the stretch now. It wasn't always pretty, but it's a win and a chance for a young team to grow additional confidence. Boston plays the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday in Miami. That will cap a stretch of five games in seven nights in five cities. Boston gets some home cooking next week with three consecutive games at TD Garden -- starting Monday versus Orlando.