The Boston Celtics used smothering defense against the Orlando Magic to defeat them, 90-80, and end their 11-game home winning streak. Orlando shot 38.2% from the field and committed 14 turnovers as the Celtics refused to let them get into an offensive rhythm. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis, the Magic's starting forwards, combined for 42 points on 29 shots, but Orlando got minimal meaningful contributions from its other players. Paul Pierce was a one-man wrecking crew for Boston, leading it in scoring (27), rebounding (10), and assists (4). Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen also had good, efficient games, but were silent in their killing.
I have nothing to say about this game. The Magic were simply outclassed. They couldn't get the looks they wanted, nor could they stop the Celtics from getting the ones they wanted. Paul Pierce did his usual Magic-killing routine--seriously, I had forgotten how frequently he's torched Orlando until he drilled a 15-footer while bumping into Hedo Turkoglu for the and-one--seemingly without breaking a sweat. A lot of times, it appeared as though Boston did not need to work for its shots. Effortless.
One can apply that term to the Magic's play tonight, although in a slightly different way. They played, frankly, dumb basketball. A lot of that has to do with the Celtics' stifling defense--open looks were few and far between--but some of it had to do with a lack of aggression. The Magic didn't give Dwight Howard enough touches... not that it mattered. After making some nifty hooks over Kendrick Perkins to start the game, Dwight went invisible and could not get anything going underneath.
To recap: the Celtics allowed no open threes and no way to get the ball to Dwight. That forced the Magic to play a lot of one-on-one, which did not work well, to say the least.
I'd be remiss not to mention Glen Davis' 16 points (on 8 attempts), so, uh, there it is. The Glen Davises of the NBA should not hang those sorts of numbers on the Magic, but ultimately I'm not worried. Davis went 4-for-4 on jump shots tonight...and he's a 29% jump shooter this year. Fluke night. Sure, some of those looks were open, but at the same time, you want Davis to tee off from 15 as opposed to, say, Paul Pierce driving the lane. Or, as Kevin Harlan said during the broadcast, "knifing through the defense." Too soon, Kevin. It's always too soon to mention Paul Pierce and knives in the same sentence.
Ultimately, we're seeing a disturbing trend in the Magic's play against the traditional Eastern powerhouses. They're 0-3 against Boston and Detroit, losses with an average pace factor of 82. There's your blueprint for beating the Magic: control the tempo. Of course, it helps if Jameer Nelson isn't playing, or is at least playing poorly. But I digress.
A discouraging loss for the Magic. No excuses; the Celtics just took them out of their game. There's no shame in losing to the defending champs when they're at the top of their game, but I definitely expected a stronger effort from the Magic tonight.