Fast Break: Avery Bradley, balanced attack fuels C’s rout of Magic
|12.07.16 at 9:33 pm ET|
With Isaiah Thomas back in Boston receiving treatment on his strained groin, the question for the Celtics was who would replace the production of their leading scorer Wednesday night. The answer: everyone.
Seven Celtics scored in double figures (and Kelly Olynyk was one point short of being the eighth) as the C’s dominated the Magic in the second half en route to an impressive 117-87 victory.
Avery Bradley led the offensive onslaught with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 6-of-7 free throws. Terry Rozier came off the bench to pour in 16 points, Jae Crowder had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Marcus Smart, Amir Johnson and Jaylen Brown — who had a highlight-reel dunk early in the second quarter, driving from the 3-point line and hammering down a one-hander over Magic 7-footer Nikola Vucevic — each netted 13. Al Horford amassed 10 points, eight assists and six boards — and was a plus-31.
And before you dismiss the Magic, consider that Orlando was coming off a road trip in which it won four out of five, including an eye-catching win over the Spurs.
The C’s outscored Orlando 68-37 in the second half. They opened the half on a 10-2 run, playing fierce defense and unselfish offense. On one sequence Bradley hounded Evan Fournier and eventually blocked his runner out of bounds. The C’s continued to pour it on at both ends — the run went to 18-2 — and pushed their newfound lead up to 18 points at 78-60 late in the period after a three-point play by Brown. At that point the C’s had hit 11 of their 13 shots in the period, and assists were credited on 10 of the 11 baskets.
But it was at the defensive end where Bradley said the C’s were focused.
“Every possession counts, and we showed that,” Bradley told CSNNE’s Abby Chin. “We got together at halftime and we told each other, ‘We’ve got to come out and player harder. We’ve got to get consistent stops. We can’t worry about the offensive end.’ And it showed in the second half.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens was impressed by his team’s all-around performance.
“We didn’t shoot it well from 3 [7-for-26], but we really moved it the whole night on offense and tried to find the right shot,” he said in his postgame press conference. “And then on defense, I thought our second half was as good as we’ve guarded all year. Really focused, really urgent. I think they had 30 with a couple of minutes left in the game in the second half, so [we] felt good about that.”
The Celtics trailed by a point at the half, 50-49. They shot just 2-for-15 from behind the arc, but they made up for that by hitting 16-of-27 from inside the arc. Meanwhile, Orlando hit 8-of-10 treys — led by D.J. Augustin’s 4-for-4 — but shot just 10-for-26 inside the arc.
Smart was given the start in Thomas’ place. He started inauspiciously, by getting faked out and fouling Augustin while the Magic guard was shooting a 3-pointer with a tenth of a second left on the shot clock during Orlando’s opening possession. Smart then swished a jumper as the shot clock was running down on Boston’s first foray over halfcourt.
Meanwhile, Johnson returned to the starting lineup after a four-minute stint off the bench in Monday’s loss to the Rockets.
Stud of the night: Avery Bradley
Bradley was the spark for the Celtics during their third-quarter run and throughout. He not only hit from outside, he got to the line — which has been a concern for this team — and hit 6-of-7.
“We just had to move the ball,” Bradley told CSNNE. “We were playing as a team, like I said. We were playing through Al, we were sharing the ball, driving and kicking. We were just playing Celtic basketball, having fun.”
Dud of the night: Serge Ibaka
Orlando’s big man came up small against the C’s, hitting just 3-of-10 shots and finishing at minus-22, worst on the night.
When the game was won: The third quarter
For the first 9 1/2 minutes of the period Boston was dominant on both ends of the floor, outscoring Orlando 29-10. The Magic managed to score 13 points in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the period, but it still goes down as a very impressive quarter for the C’s.
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