Celtics

Celtics extend win streak to eight with 104-88 win over Magic

Celtics extend win streak to eight with 104-88 win over Magic

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kyrie Irving and Al Horford have been the primary forces behind so much of what the Boston Celtics are doing well during their eight-game winning streak.

On Sunday, it was key contributions off the bench from Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. The reserve duo brought energy and grit during the Celtics' 104-88 win over Orlando on Sunday night.

Boston (8-2) carried a modest eight-point lead into the fourth quarter, but quickly pushed that advantage to double-digits as Smart and Rozier hustled for loose balls to help turn a tight game into a blowout in the final quarter.

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"Their impact is huge," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "I thought a big part of our playoff success last year was Smart and Terry coming off the bench together and that has been validated in the first couple of weeks of the season."

Smart was one of six Celtics players in double figures with 11 points to go along with eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Rozier added six points and seven rebounds.

"We play really well off of each other," Smart said. "When Terry has the ball he can create for himself and when I have the ball vice versa.

"Me and Terry, we just complement each other."

They helped put together an impressive defensive performance by the Celtics, limiting the NBA's best 3-point shooting team to just under 21 percent from behind the arc. Boston outscored the Magic 27-19 in the fourth quarter while leading by as many as 23 points in the final period.

The Magic (6-4) only got six points from leading scorer Evan Fournier. Nikola Vucevic was held to just 13 points, which included a 1 for 4 showing from beyond the arc. It was the eighth time during this current eight-game winning streak that the Celtics have held an opponent to under 94 points.

Boston, meanwhile, received strong scoring from Jaylen Brown and Horford, who finished with 18 points and 14 points, respectively.

"We're in a good place presently but we understand there are still some things we can control on that end, some effort things as well as principle things," said Irving, who only scored one point in the second half and finished with 11 points on the night. "But we feel like we are in a good place, but obviously there is always room to improve."

The Magic, which has been slowed by injuries to their top two point guards, were out of offensive rhythm for the second straight game and their second straight loss. They shot just 36 percent from the field and converted only 6 of 29 3-point attempts.

"We didn't execute great shot selection and patience at times," said Orlando coach Frank Vogel. "Credit Boston's defense because they take you out of your stuff, your first action or your first look and you have to be patient against that."

TIP-INS

Celtics: Morris, who made his season debut during Friday's win over Oklahoma City, was inserted into the starting lineup for Sunday's game. Celtics coach Brad Stevens, however, said Morris will not play in Monday's game at Atlanta. Morris missed the first eight games due to a sore knee. ... After a subpar first half on Friday, Irving had 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting in the first half Sunday to help the Celtics take a 49-38 lead into halftime.

Magic: Point guard Elfrid Payton missed his eighth straight game with a strained left hamstring injury, but Vogel is expecting him to be ready to go against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. ...The Magic converted just 3 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half.

UP NEXT

Celtics: Visits Atlanta on Monday to conclude a back-to-back on the road.

Magic: Hosts the New York Knicks on Wednesday.

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics back in win column

0:41 - The Celtics returned to their winning ways with a 118-103 victory over the Orlando Magic. Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Rob “Hardy” Poole break down the win.

6:58 - Tom Giles and Hardy discuss the Bruins’ four-game winning streak and how the success of Anton Khudobin has helped keep the team afloat.

11:39 - Is the Patriots' Week 12 matchup with the Dolphins a trap game? Tom Giles, Phil Perry and Hardy discuss where Miami ranks among NFL teams and how the Patriots should approach the game.

17:07 - With Black Friday upon us, the Boston Sports Tonight crew discusses what big-ticket item they would choose to buy for any Boston sports team. 

 

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

Morris out, Brown questionable for Pacers game Saturday

BOSTON – Boston made strengthening their depth at the wing position a priority during the offseason.

Well, that depth will be put to the test with the possibility of at least one and maybe two of their top wing players being out for Saturday’s game at Indiana.

Shortly after Boston’s 118-103 win over Orlando on Friday night, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that Marcus Morris (left knee) would not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against the Pacers.

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Also, Jaylen Brown will be attending the funeral of his best friend (Trevin Steede) in Georgia on Saturday and isn’t sure if he’ll be back with the team in time for Saturday’s game.

“My intention is to make it back. If I can, I’ll definitely be playing,” Brown said. “But we’ll see.”

The absence of Brown would be a huge blow for the Celtics.

Boston only returned four players from last season’s team, none of whom have improved their overall game as much as Brown did during the offseason.

He came into the season focused on being a lock-down defender.

But Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury was a game-changer for all the Celtics, including Brown.

Not only would Brown be charged with being an elite defender, but Boston now needed the second-year wing player to become more of a scoring threat.

And to Brown’s credit, he has risen to the challenge.

In 20 games (all starts) this season, Brown has averaged 15.9 points per game which is second on the team to Kyrie Irving (22.9). In addition, Brown’s defense has been among the keys to Boston’s 17-3 start which is the best record in the NBA thus far this season.

His defensive rating of 95.0 is fifth among players to appear in at least 10 games this season, and tops among all second-year players. And of the four players ahead of him, two – Aron Baynes and Marcus Smart – are teammates.

But just like the Celtics gave Isaiah Thomas all the time he needed in dealing with the death of his sister right before the playoffs last season, a similar approach has been taken with Brown which he is admittedly appreciative of the organization for doing.

“Brad (Stevens) has been great in this process,” Brown said. “Just somebody to talk to, allowing me to deal with it in the best way our family and their family feels we can deal with it. He’s been great; we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully I can make it to Indiana; if not, I just have to re-group with my family and I’ll see you guys next game (against Detroit on Monday).”

While there's a chance that Brown will play against Indiana, the same can not be said for Morris who is definitely out.

Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season with left knee soreness, has been on a minutes restriction all season in addition to not being allowed to play in back-to-back games.

Following Friday’s game, Morris said the knee feels good but he understands the need to be cautious.

“It’s frustrating,” said Morris who acknowledged the decision was made by the coaching and medical staff. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be out there.”

He added, “Like I said, at this point I pretty much don’t have control over it when I’m playing. It’s a long season. I just want to be ready for June.”

With Morris out and Brown potentially out as well, the Celtics will be extremely thin and inexperienced at the wing position. Look for Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes to be in the starting lineup if Brown is out along with Morris.

Also, Stevens will likely use Terry Rozier and first-year forward Semi Ojeleye more in addition to increased spot-duty for another rookie, Abdel Nader. On Friday, Rozier had a career-high 23 points while Ojeleye and Nader had seven and three points, respectively.

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