Saturday, December 16, 2023

Short-handed Celtics dominate Orlando 128-111 on second night of a back-to-back

The Celtics remain perfect at home following a 128-111 victory over the Orlando Magic Friday night at TD Garden.

Jayson Tatum was the game's highest scorer with 30 points on 11-of-22 shooting, while Payton Pritchard recorded a season-high 21 points -- connecting on 6-of-7 from deep -- and handed out five assists off the bench to lead Boston to a 13-0 record at home and 19-5 overall, which is both a league best.
"We had to change our game a little bit," said Pritchard in his postgame comments, as the C's second unit outscored Orlando's 47-28. "When you have guys like KP and Al and we get in half-court sets, we need them for sure. But not having them we had to use our speed to our advantage."
Derrick White had 19 points, eight assists and Jaylen Brown added 18 points for the Celtics, who were playing on a second night of a back-to-back without Kristaps Porzingis (calf), Al Horford (rest) and Luke Kornet (thigh).

Jalen Suggs led Orlando with 19 points, despite a scary fall that led to left wrist sprain in the second quarter. Frantz Wagner and Cole Anthony each netted 17 points respectively, while Goga Bitadze notched 15 points, 11 rebounds for the Magic -- who fell to 16-8 on the season after winning four-straight against Boston coming into Friday.

The Celtics trailed 11-4 in the opening quarter as they missed their first eight 3-point attempts before Pritchard knocked down three straight as a part of an 18-7 run to end the period and give the home team a lead for good.

The Magic got within one (37-36) early in the second, but Boston responded with a 16-5 spurt to push the advantage back up to 16, taking a 64-51 lead into halftime.

The C's were ahead by as many as 25 (101-76) to start the final frame, as they went on to avenge a 113-96 loss at the hands of Orlando last month in their lone defeat in the group stage of the In-Season Tournament.
"We've dropped some games that we should have, or we didn't want to, over the years at home," said Jaylen Brown in his postgame presser. "The mentality is: You can't skip any steps. Every shootaround, every practice, every warmup, any time you're walking to the bus, you've got to be aware of what the job is, what the ultimate goal is, and what our mission is. ... I think that's why we've been able to have such a good run at home."
The Celtics, who haven't lost at TD Garden in 20 regular season games dating back to last season (March 5), have the second-longest streak to start a season in franchise history -- behind 17 home wins in a row to open the 1957-58 campaign.

They'll host the Magic once again Sunday afternoon in a 3:00 pm ET matinee tip-off to wrap a five-game homestand.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 52.2% from the field, including 18-of-42 (42.9%) from 3-point range, while the Magic were 48.3% from the floor and 14-of-35 (40%) from long distance. Both teams scored 52 points each in the paint, but the C's won the rebound battle 45-34. The Celtics dished out 31 assists (11 turnovers) on 48 baskets while Orlando had 25 assists (21 turnovers) on 42 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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