The Orlando Magic deserved a better fate than what they received on Friday night. Despite playing one of their better games of the year, it came down to the final possession before the Boston Celtics came away with a 117-116 victory.
On the game’s final play, Elfrid Payton drove the lane and was slightly bumped, but no foul would be called. On a night when the Magic made 24 of their 25 free throw attempts, that was an opportunity a demonstrably frustrated Frank Vogel wanted.
“We got a great look in front of the rim,” Vogel said. “There was contact similar to some of the calls for Isiah (Thomas), but it wasn’t called.”
Aaron Gordon had a monster game. He scored 32 points on the night, one shy of a career high, and also hauled down 16 rebounds.
The Magic held Boston without a field goal over the final 3:46 of the game, but could not make enough shots down the stretch to put some space between them and the Celtics. Evan Fournier’s three-pointer with 1:50 left gave the Magic their final lead of the game, but would not score again.
Orlando moved the ball well, tallying 28 assists on 40 made baskets. They had only nine turnovers for the game and outrebounded the Celtics 48-45.
Vogel gave a shout out to Payton, who scored 12 points, but dished out 15 assists and had nine rebounds. Vogel noted that Payton “was not playing for a triple-double,” but was more interested in winning.
Payton almost made it happen.
On the other end, despite plenty of effort, the Magic was not able to contain the all-star Thomas. He tallied 33 points and dished out seven assists.
To their credit, the Magic did not feel happy with just coming close.
“We played our hearts and I’m proud of our performance against one of the better teams in the league,” Vogel said. “It hurts when you compete like that and lay it all on the line.”
The Magic make a short trip to New Jersey to take on the Nets on Saturday. The Nets hold the league’s worst record at 16-59. Orlando is 27-49.