Final, Magic win 93-91: Jeff Green and Avery Bradley passed up looks and the Celtics never got a shot off on the final play of the game.
The Celtics (14-28) went down for the 14th time in 16 games while the Magic (11-30) snapped a 10-game losing streak. Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 10 points and 13 rebounds, with Jameer Nelson pitching in 16 points and 10 assists.
Green led Boston with 22 points, using a 13-for-15 effort from the free throw line to help him get there. Kris Humphries and Bradley each chipped in 18 points.
Rajon Rondo, in his second game back from a torn ACL, had six points, six rebounds, four assists, a steal and three turnovers in 21:20 of action.
Fourth quarter, :10.1, Magic 93-91: After forcing a miss, the Celtics had a chance to get the ball back in a tie game. But Kris Humphries was whistled for a loose ball foul for grabbing Tobias Harris’ jersey on the rebound attempt, and Tobias hit both to give Orlando the lead.
Fourth quarter, :33.3, game tied 91-91: It’s not the game-winner against Miami, but Gerald Wallace just hit Jeff Green with an over-the-top pass off an inbounds. Green converted and was fouled, although he missed.
Out of a scrum, the Celtics and Magic both appeared to have possession, but somehow the Magic were awarded a timeout. It didn’t look like they had even finished fighting for the ball.
Fourth quarter, :35.3, Magic 91-83: After his big jumper, the Celtics went back to the Rondo jump shot well again. It didn’t go so well this time, with Rondo missing a jumper over Tobias Harris. A pair of free throws by Jameer Nelson gives Orlando the lead back.
Fourth quarter, 1:16, Celtics 89-87: The Celtics have spent most of the last few minutes trying to exploit a mismatch for Jeff Green against Tobias Harris, who is both shorter and lighter than Green. But the big shot was delivered by Rondo, who curled along the baseline to the elbow for a jump shot after Green posted up against Harris for several seconds without success.
Fourth quarter, 2:53, Magic 85-83: It’ll be the starters the rest of the way for both sides as they try to snap their respective skids. Rondo is looking an extra step slow in the late stages of a close game, just as he did Friday. He has four points, six rebounds, four assists and three turnovers so far.
Fourth quarter, 5:27, Celtics 79-78: At the 6:48 mark, Rondo checks back in, about a minute ahead of schedule. With Afflalo starting to find his groove and Nelson or Oladipo hitting a bit shot out of nowhere, Brad Stevens might have blinked and given Rondo a few extra seconds of playing time.
Let’s see how it works out here.
Fourth quarter, 9:55, Magic 67-66: Cue the Benny Hill music. The Celtics and Magic went back and forth four times in pseudo-fastbreak mode without generating a single point. After Kelly Olynyk appeared to block Brandon Bass’ dunk attempt, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn called a timeout to regroup.
No matter for the Celtics, who have the ultimate ace in the hole. Rajon Rondo has played less than 15 minutes so far, which means Brad Stevens can bring his point guard back around the six-minute mark to close out the game if it remains close.
End of third quarter, Magic 66-64: Scoring wasn’t really a theme in the third quarter, but at least it’s close. The score will stay tight enough for this game to be worth a view in the final 12 minutes.
The Celtics won the third quarter 18-13 as the teams combined to shoot 11-for-38 from the field. Only Kris Humphries, who recorded eight points and four more rebounds to add to his total, can say he really played very well in the quarter. Jameer Nelson, who had six points, pretty much canceled out his contributions with four turnovers.
Neither team is setting any records for shooting accuracy, but wins aren’t judged by style points. Both teams could use a victory, no matter how ugly it looks getting there.
Third quarter, 3:53, Celtics 61-57: Kris Humphries is playing so well lately, he might just be playing himself out of town.
The Celtics finally broke out of their daze, with Humphries leading the way. It started through hustle by scoring on a putback and he’s now knocked down a pair of 18-foot jump shots to put the Celtics back into the lead after a 13-0 run.
Humphries has 18 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes of action.
Third quarter, 8:49, Magic 57-48: Coming out of the break, the Celtics look flat. They’ve short-armed most of their shots and are just 1-for-6 in the early going of the third quarter.
Halftime, Magic 53-46: The absence of Nik Vucevic has not garnered any advantage up front for the Celtics.
Even with their 7-footer sidelined, the Magic are thoroughly outplaying the Celtics in the battle between their respective frontcourts. Tobias Harris and Arron Afflalo are both in double figures with 10 points apiece and Kyle O’Quinn is just a point shy with nine points and seven boards. Afflalo, a worthy All-Star despite Orlando’s record, also has a game-high nine rebounds.
The Celtics are shooting at a decent 43 percent clip, are rebounding well and haven’t turned the ball over too much. They just haven’t been as aggressive as the Magic. That’s why the Magic hold a 22-14 advantage in points in the paint and have attempted 16 foul shots to the Celtics’ three.
Kris Humphries and Avery Bradley lead the Celtics with 10 points, but the latter is far from efficient. Bradley is just 5-for-14 from the field and hasn’t recorded an assist, not that that’s anything new for the newly shot-happy guard.
Second quarter, 2:56, Magic 44-41: Rondo’s back in and the Celtics are getting some decent looks. They just aren’t knocking them down.
Kris Humphries and Avery Bradley each had an open shot off a feed from Rondo but couldn’t convert. Fortunately for the Celtics, Jeff Green was able to catch and convert an alley-oop from Rondo on the weak side.
Second quarter, 5:24, Magic 38-37: Avery Bradley’s shooting continues to come along. At times, he can even be lights-out. With a couple of pull-up jump shots, Bradley is keeping the Celtics close while the Magic start to gain momentum.
Victor Oladipo and Jameer Nelson present problems as a backcourt duo. Oladipo used his athleticism and Nelson used his wits, but both got the same result by earning trips to the free throw line on drives to the hoop.
Second quarter, 8:29, game tied 31-31: After going more than two full games without a turnover, Pressey committed two on consecutive possessions. Miscues like those just can’t be made for a team — and a player — with such a slim margin of error.
The Magic have surged back, outscored the Celtics 13-5 in the frame, led by Tobias Harris and Kyle O’Quinn. The promising, if under-exposed, young duo has 14 points to help the Magic crawl back into a tie.
End of first quarter, Celtics 26-18: First, Jordan Crawford. Now, Phil Pressey. Brad Stevens is earning a new reputation as The Point Guard Whisperer.
Pressey, who entered the day with 19 assists and no turnovers in the last two games, flashed his recently improved jumper with a 19-footer from the top of the key. Pressey and Bayless, who came off the bench to hit his first two shots, have kept the Celtics ahead with Rondo on the bench.
The Magic started playing better, as they were destined to do after such a putrid start. They’ve actually been more aggressive than the Celtics and have gotten a couple of trips to the free throw line as a result. The Celtics have yet to attempt a free throw.
First quarter, 4:12, Celtics 20-11: Jeff Green is down and clutching his knee. Given how he’s gone down with little or no serious harm done in the past, it’s hard to tell how serious it was. Still, it’s never good to see a player fall like that, especially after no contact. He appeared to trip while defending a pump-fake by Arron Afflalo.
UPDATE: It doesn’t look too bad now. Green walked off the court under his own power, although he is headed to the trainer’s room for a closer look.
First quarter, 7:20, Celtics 12-4: Off and running early, the Celtics are making Orlando look just like the terrible team it is.
The Celtics hit five of their first seven shots, with every starter expect Avery Bradley notching a basket in the first five minutes. Rondo is off to a Rondo-like start with two points, two assists and two rebounds, but he’s headed to the bench according to plan.
Jerryd Bayless prepares to check in. His task is the keep the Celtics humming on offense and to help keep the Magic, who are shooting 2-for-9 so far, tripping on Boston’s defensive end.
5:15 p.m.: A hiccup-free weekend will lead to another start for Rajon Rondo. He’ll still be on the 20-minute limit for about another week, Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters in Orlando, so expect to see Rondo in five-minute increments once again today.
The Magic are forced to go small with center Nikola Vucevic out with post-concussion symptoms. The third-year big man hasn’t played in seven games and his absence will benefit the Celtics.
Not only is Vucevic a nice player, gobbling up 27.8 percent of available defensive rebounds, but he’s also big. Not having him on the floor means Orlando won’t have the size advantage it otherwise would, which should mean good things for Boston’s undersized big men, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass.
The projected starters are below.
8 a.m. ET: One of the great things about basketball is that there are no ties or sudden-death overtimes that can be decided by one silly bounce or lucky break. Every game, there is a clear winner and a loser.
That consistency might be challenged on Sunday.
The Celtics (14-27) visit the Orlando Magic (10-30) in a showdown of two of the worst teams in the NBA. As a result of Friday’s collapse against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Celtics have now lost 13 of their last 15 games. Of course, the Magic aren’t impressed by that.
Orlando is at 10 straight losses and counting, matching Boston’s mark of 13 losses in its last 15. These teams have a 1-18 combined record in the new year. Something’s got to give.
Or maybe not. There’s never been a game in the history of the NBA in which both teams lost, but Sunday could give that record a run for its money.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 5 p.m. ET.