After the Orlando Magic suffered an epic collapse in their last outing, giving up a 21-point lead to Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, they were given a chance at redemption against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden on Friday night.
Like Deja Vu, the Magic would give up a 17-point lead in Boston, falling to the Celtics by a final score of 117-116.
After the two teams traded blows in the game’s final minutes, the Magic grabbed an Isaiah Thomas miss with just over 10 seconds left in the game. Frank Vogel elected not to call a timeout, and Magic point guard Elfrid Payton’s layup rattled off of the rim as time expired. There was a bit of contact on the last play, but at the end of the day, Payton called his own number and came up short.
“[forgoing the timeout] was our plan that we had from morning shootaround on,” said Vogel, “we all knew that was gonna be the plan. They’re probably the best in the league at setting their defense. (...)
“We worked on it, we got a great look at the front of the rim, there was some contact that was a foul for Isaiah (Thomas) most of the night, wasn’t blown but that’s the way the game is.”
This one was a tale of two halves, as the Magic jumped on the Celtics early and spent the rest of the first defending that lead with varied success. The Magic would hit 6 straight shots after surrendering a 0-4 lead out of the gate, foreshadowing a night of solid ball movement by Orlando.
After a scoring lull between the first and second quarters, Orlando grabbed the reins again and their lead ballooned to 17 in the second quarter. Boston would battle back after halftime, however, as a 17-4 run would get them right back into it.
Ultimately, late-game execution would sink the Magic again as they would be on the wrong side of the game’s final possession for the second-straight game.
Magic forward Aaron Gordon had easily his best game for Orlando, tallying 32 points, 16 rebounds, and two blocks. That’s just one point short of a career-high and equal to his personal best in rebounds. He would also fly over the Celtics’ Marcus smart for one of the most impressive dunks in his young career.
Gordon was part of the three-headed monster that led the Magic to a point total that tied for their sixth-best of the season, though the offensive lulls limited them to 40 percent from the floor on the night.
Despite the disappointing finish, point guard Elfrid Payton set his career high in assists against the Celtics. He had 15 dimes and fell just one rebound short of another triple-double with 12 points and nine boards.
Evan Fournier came in second on the team with 20 points, going a perfect 6-6 at the line and swiping two steals.
The Orlando Magic (27-49) will stay on the road on Saturday as they take on the Brooklyn Nets, who have an NBA-worst 16 wins.