For the second consecutive game, the Orlando Magic gave a good effort on the road. For the second consecutive game, they came up short, this time falling to the Boston Celtics, 107-96. Orlando has now lost four consecutive games and 11 of their last 15.
The Magic led only briefly in the first quarter, but made strong runs on two occasions to erase large deficits. If there was any bright spot, it was the return of point guard Elfrid Payton who played 31 minutes and scored eight points coming off the bench. Center Nikola Vucevic missed his ninth straight game with a groin injury.
Another bright spot could be the emergence of Victor Oladipo into an NBA star. The second overall pick in the 2013 draft scored 25 points, had eight rebounds and five steals, but again it wasn’t enough. Over his last five games, the third year player out of Indiana is averaging 27.8 points and shooting 59 percent from the field.
The Celtics used a 12-0 run in the first quarter to take a 14-4 lead. Orlando was able to stay in contact and trailed 22-17 at the end of the first period.
Andrew Nicholson nailed a three-pointer with 8:21 remaining in the half to give the Magic a 30-26 lead. Avery Bradley’s short jumper put the Celtics back on top with 5:54 left. Boston took a 56-49 advantage at halftime.
The Celtics put on another surge in the latter stages of the third quarter. Kelly Olynyk’s layup stretched the lead to 81-68. It was 91-78 after three quarters.
Olynyk’s three-pointer with 10:48 left in the game gave the Celtics their biggest lead at 94-80. An 8-0 Magic run got them back in the game at 94-88 and when Oladipo hit a 17-foot jumper, it was 98-94. But Orlando could not get over the hump.
“We played hard, we were scrapping for it at the end, ” said Magic Coach Scott Skiles. “They made the plays and we didn’t.”
Evan Fournier and Nicholson each had 13 points for the Magic. Orlando shot 42 percent for the game.
The Celtics were led by 28 points from Isaiah Thomas. Bradley and Olynyk each had 22 for Boston, who shot 47 percent for the game.
Orlando fell to 29-41 for the season with only 12 games remaining. Next up is a Wednesday visit to the Amway Center by the Detroit Pistons.