Basketball was played Friday night inside the Amway Center for the first time in nearly six months.
It wasn’t pretty basketball (at least not for the home team), but the game was back in Orlando nonetheless.
The Orlando Magic, who entered Friday’s contest coming off three straight road wins to begin their preseason campaign, laid an egg in their home opener. The Celtics ran over the Magic, scoring 62 points in the first half en route to a 100-75 victory.
Marcus Smart scored nine of his 14 points in the game’s opening frame to set the stage for the re-occurring theme of the night, Boston being in control throughout the contest.
With All-Star center Nikola Vucevic sitting out (mild ankle sprain), the Magic offense looked completely lost and disjointed from the opening tip. Orlando missed their first six field goal attempts as Boston ran out to an early 11-0 lead. The Magic also missed two free throws while turning the ball over three times within the game’s first five minutes.
Things didn’t get a whole lot better for Orlando in the opening period. The horn mercilessly rang as the Magic found themselves down 35-11. The Celtics knocked-down six first quarter three-point attempts. On the other end, the Magic went 0-6 from deep (4-20 FGA’s from the field overall).
One positive in the first half for the Magic was the home debut of Markelle Fultz, who came into the game and immediately made his presence felt. Fultz came up with a loose ball on his first defensive series in the game, which led to an assist from the former first overall pick going the other way.
Fultz ripped-away another steal later in the first half, this time against Enes Kanter in the post. Fultz hit the floor to scoop-up the loose ball, ran the floor with great energy, and eventually found Michael Carter-Williams for a lay-up (and another assist).
Fultz aside (as well as modest spark from Terrence Ross), Orlando’s play and effort in the first half was completely brutal. Two careless turnovers on back-to-back possessions by D.J. Augustin helped Boston push their lead to 35 points (62-27) with two minutes remaining in the second quarter.
The Magic scored the final seven points of the first half, which was....nice (I guess).
Boston maintained their 28 point lead after a back-and-forth third quarter, and the only question that remained was, “when is it going to be Tacko time”?
Boston rookie BIG man Tacko Fall, who played his collegiate ball locally at UCF, has captured the attention of NBA fans all over the country with his stature, his personality, and his improving overall game.
Fall’s number was finally called with 5:33 left in the fourth quarter following numerous “We want Tacko” chants from the Orlando crowd. He grabbed two rebounds in six minutes of action.
Jayson Tatum paced the Celtics with 15 points in 21 minutes of action.
Terrence Ross was the lone bright spot for the Magic, leading the way with 21 points in 25 minutes (7-16 FGA’s).
“You don’t ever want to do something like that, but it’s a wake-up call,” Aaron Gordon told reporters after the game. “Go home, get some good food and sleep and come back tomorrow with a new level of focus.”
Gordon suffered a miserable night, converting just 1 of his 14 field goals attempts (4 points). Evan Fournier failed to score in the game (0-3 FGA’s, 18 minutes) before exiting with back spasms.
“So obviously they were terrific and we were not good at all,” Coach Steve Clifford said during his post-game conference. “That’s what preseason is for. We struggled to run offense. Their length, their ball pressure had everything to do with it.”
“This will be a good game (and tape) to learn from,” Clifford added.
My thoughts exactly coach. Watch the film, and then bury the film and move on.
The Magic are back on the floor Sunday at home against Philadelphia.