BOSTON – Well, so much for the Boston Celtics being hungover following their first loss in more than a month.
If anything, the loss at Miami on Wednesday served as a wake-up call for the Celtics to avoid easing their way into games.
Because the Celtics jumped on the Magic early and never lost control of the game as they cruised to a 118-103 win.
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Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 30 points while Terry Rozier came off the Celtics bench to score a career-high 23 points. Nikola Vucevic led the Magic (8-11) with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
After leading by as many as 32 points, the Magic opened the fourth quarter against Boston’s backups, with a 13-3 run that cut Boston’s lead to 102-82.
The Magic would score six of the game’s next eight points before Rozier drained a much-needed 3-pointer that increased Boston’s lead to 107-88 with 6:48 to play.
Following an Orlando timeout, Boston continued to play with a huge lead and in doing so, got a big, bounce-back win.
One of the issues Boston was having, even during the 16-game winning streak, was that they didn’t get off to the greatest starts evident by them trailing by double digits in the first half of each of their previous four games prior to tonight’s game.
But that would not be the case tonight; not even close actually.
Leading 22-19 in the first, Boston went on an 18-7 run to take a commanding 40-26 lead
The 40 points scored were the most they tallied in the first quarter of a game this season.
And while the points weren’t as abundant in the second quarter, Boston’s dominance was just as great.
On this night, the Celtics were an equal opportunity destroyer.
Kyrie Irving had a very Kyrie Irving kind of night with 17 points in the first half.
The Celtics also got an unexpected boost from its bench, led by Rozier who had 13 points in the first half.
It seemed no matter who Brad Stevens turned to off the bench, it was a given that they would have a positive impact on this night.
Meanwhile, the Magic could muster up little fight or resistance as Boston’s lead peaked at 28 points (68-40) before the half ended with Boston in charge with a commanding 73-47 lead.
It’s rare for a team to have such a commanding halftime lead, the kind of lead that makes a team oh-so-vulnerable to a second-half letup.
Not the Celtics; not tonight at least.
Boston continued to play with a purpose; to not just win but do so in an emphatic, consistently dominant fashion.
Sporting a lead of 20-plus points throughout the third quarter, Boston went into the fourth quarter leading 99-69.