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Boston Celtics 117, Orlando Magic 87: Orlando’s defense collapses in the second half

Coming off their excellent road trip, the Magic couldn’t keep their momentum rolling as they get crushed by Boston at home.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Magic were able to make Tuesday’s win over the Wizards work thanks to hot shooting all across the roster. They were able to ride that hot shooting for the first half on Wednesday, but when their shooting dried up in the second half, they weren’t able to lean on their defense like they have all season. The Celtics blew out Orlando 68-37 in the second half, leading to a 117-87 loss. D.J Augustin led Orlando with 15 points, all in the first half, and Nikola Vucevic put up 12 points and 10 boards to go with 2 steals. Avery Bradley led all scorers with 24 points, and Terry Rozier scored a career high 16. Orlando shot just 37% on the game.

The Magic’s offensive output from their Tuesday night shootout in Washington kept right on rolling into this game, with Orlando making shots all over the court. They hit their first four attempts from long range, with four different players making those shots. They got out to a 20-13 lead on the back of that offense after a made technical free throw, but that’s when the mistakes started to creep in. Gordon fouled Bradley on a 3-point attempt, the Magic committed a 3-second violation on offense, got called for another offensive foul by Payton, and let up on their defensive attention. That combination let the Celtics erase that lead and tie the game at 23. Fournier led all scorers early with 10 points, including a several jumpers all around the court. Bradley was a particular challenge for Orlando early on, who assigned Gordon as his defender. Still, the Magic were able to go into the second quarter with a slim lead, 27-26.

The second quarter was even worse from an execution standpoint, as Orlando continued to dribble, pass, and shoot sloppily. Their one saving grace: their superior shooting from long range. The Celtics were just 2-15 from behind the arc in the first half, while Orlando shot 8-10. Three of those came all in a row from Augustin, the only interruptions being a technical free throw he took and a Crowder putback layup. That personal 10-2 run salvaged the Magic’s offense in the quarter. The highlight moments came from Jaylen Brown, who threw down multiple dunks over Vucevic, including one monster jam when Vucevic was hit in the eyes (he was able to stay in the game after the timeout). By the end of it, the Magic’s mistakes and the Celtics’ poor shooting balanced out, and they each scored 23 points, leaving Orlando with a 1-point lead at halftime, 50-49.

The third quarter is when the game went off the rails, with the offense completely collapsing under the pressure from Boston’s perimeter players, and the defense was a step slow on every Celtic drive and pass. Orlando was held to just 8 points in the first 8 minutes, while at the same time the Celtics’ shooting came back to form. After making just 2 long-range shots in the first half, they went 3-5 in the third quarter, which opened up opportunities to drive over and over again. Bradley was the biggest beneficiary, nearly doubling his first-half point total by adding 11 points. Boston’s lead swelled as high as 18 points before a few shots finally went down near the end of the quarter for Orlando, who still trailed by 12, 85-73.

The Magic had a couple opportunities to try to close the gap in the fourth, but never could quite capitalize. They got into the bonus just 9 minutes into the quarter, but missed a few of those free throws they went on to take. They had several chances around the rim, but most of those shots weren’t anywhere close to going in. Even when they were able to put together a couple stops, the offense wasn’t able to make the Celtics pay, and eventually the Celtics got going again offensively. That was a recipe for a laugher, and with a few minutes to go, Mario Hezonja and company took the floor to close out the game.