The Orlando Magic completely dominated the first half against the Boston Celtics Thursday night, building a 52-25 lead at one point. In the second half, Boston absolutely took over. They looked like the same defense Orlando set records for futility against Monday night. Boston was also excellent on offense in the second half. They shot 21-of-39 from the field and 5-of-10 from beyond the arc to complete their record-setting comeback, winning 91-83.
For the Magic, it was the biggest second half collapse in team history. Back in 1999, they blew a 20-point second half lead and fell to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We lost composure,” Glen Davis, who finished with seven points on 3-of-11 shooting, told reporters. “We didn’t do what we needed to do when it was time to get down and play. The Celtics showed perseverance and we didn’t.”
Dwight Howard led the Magic with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Paul Pierce had a game-high 24 points for the Celtics, including 19 in the second half.
- In the first half, the Magic played extremely well on the defensive end. They got back on defense quickly, their rotations were sound and they even took a page out of Boston’s book, putting pressure on the ball at times. That completely changed late in the third quarter. Boston started getting to the basket and Orlando’s rotations were just terrible. Boston got open shot after open shot andd made the Magic pay. The Magic continuously lost Kevin Garnett while switching. Ditto with Brandon Bass. The Magic couldn’t defend a play as simple as the pick-and-pop. Leaving a guy open once or twice is understandable, but it happened over and over again. They let the Celtics post an effective field goal percentage of 60.3% in the second half.
- How bad did it get on the other end of the floor for the Magic in the second half? After scoring 58 points on 50.0% shooting from the field in the first half, the Magic could only muster 25 second half points on 45 possessions and shot just 8-of-35 from the field. Despite making just six shots in the third quarter, Orlando still entered the final quarter with an 11-point lead. However, they scored just eight(!) fourth quarter points on 2-of-17 shooting and made just three of their eight free throw attempts. The Magic couldn’t seem to get the ball inside of the three-point line and instead were stagnant throughout the entire second half. Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson and Chris Duhon went through possessions were the wasted over half of the shot clock simply dribbling the ball around outside of the three-point line.
- Nelson looked okay at some points in the game and made it a point to be more aggressive, getting into the paint on a few occasions. He finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five assists, but continued to struggle against with Boston’s pressure.
- Stan Van Gundy told the media Boston’s pressure at the half court really hurt the Magic. “I thought we had trouble moving the ball,” Van Gundy said. “We got frustrated with the physical play, we got frustrated with the officials and we just got totally out of our game.”
- Rookie E”Twan Moore was able to light the Magic up for 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting and that included a perfect second half when Moore scored 13 points on just four shots.
- Early on, Nelson’s back court mate, Jason Richardson, looked like he could be in for a big night. He had great energy on both ends of the floor. He had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the opening quarter, but wound up making just one of his last six shots, finishing with only 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Richardson got away from his earlier attempts to post up and camped out outside the three-point line.
- Dwight Howard didn’t look like Dwight Howard. He got into early foul trouble and couldn’t get involved in the offense. He had his customary 16 rebounds but looked uncomfortable on the offensive end. Howard finished with just 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
- Ryan Anderson scored 12 first quarter points and din’t score a single point after the opening quarter. That means he’s been scoreless in seven of his last eight quarters against Boston.
Next Up: The Magic will be in New Orelans Friday night to take on the Hornets.
Final Thought: That was the worst Magic loss in some time. This is going to be tough to bounce back from.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Topics: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Jermaine O’neal, Kevin Garnett, Larry Hughes, Mickael Pietrus, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Paul Pierce, Quentin Richardson, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Von Wafer