The Orlando Magic were in Boston on Friday night, but skeptics might say there were not at TD Garden. Running out to a 39-24 first quarter lead, the Celtics easily dispatched of the free-falling Magic, 128-98.
Orlando’s defense, thought to be a strong point early in the season, was again lit up. The Magic were trailing by 20 points at halftime, before another dreadful third quarter performance turned the game into a total laugher.
It was 104-65 entering the fourth quarter.
Boston shot 56 percent from the field, many of which were close-in looks or wide-open three pointers. The Celtics made 16 of 34 attempts from long distance.
Although Magic Coach Frank Vogel was deeply disappointed in his team’s play, he was emphatic when asked whether his team has quit on defense.
“No. Nobody’s quitting,” he said. “We stunk tonight. There’s no other way to put it. We’ve got to get back to work tomorrow.”
Orlando was again playing without leading scorer Evan Fournier, who is still trying to recover from a foot injury. Nikola Vucevic led the Magic in scoring with 14 points, sharing that honor with Damjan Rudez, who came off the bench to hit all five of his shots, including four three-pointers.
All-Star Isiah Thomas led the Celtics with 21 points.
The loss dropped the Magic to 18-30 on the season. Just to show how far they have fallen, they now actually trail the Philadelphia 76ers in the standings are only one-half game ahead of the Miami Heat. Both of those teams have caught fire while the Magic have lost 12 of 15.
On Sunday Orlando will be in Toronto to face the Raptors, who lead the Atlantic Division. The Raptors broke a five-game losing streak on Friday night.