So long, losing streak. Hello, winning.
Just when the Boston Celtics appeared to be playing some of their best basketball of the season, they lost Jae Crowder to an injury and dropped four straight games. But they put together some of the pieces in their last two contests, albeit against lesser competition, including their 107-96 victory over the Orlando Magic at TD Garden on Monday.
Isaiah Thomas, who led all scorers with 28 points, was one of five C’s who reached double digits. Kelly Olynyk (22 points, Avery Bradley (22), Evan Turner (16) and Amir Johnson (11 points, 11 rebounds) also pitched in offensively.
Victor Oladipo led the Magic with 25 points and eight assists.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Evan Turner, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger
IT GETS THINGS STARTED
The Celtics started cold from the field but quickly fixed things with a 12-0 run to take an early 14-4 lead.
Thomas was a big reason why Boston went on a run, as he finished the first quarter with nine points, five rebounds and two assists. Here are just two examples of him making a difference in the opening 12 minutes.
The Magic did go on a mini 6-0 spurt to close the gap momentarily, but Thomas ended that with his final bucket of the frame. Kelly Olynyk added a pair of 3-pointers, as the Celtics held a 22-17 lead at the first break.
QUARTER OF RUNS
The Magic were the aggressors early in the second quarter, going on an 8-0 run to take a slim 30-26 lead.
But Bradley and the Celtics responded with a 9-0 spurt to take a 44-38 advantage. Bradley started the run with a 2-point basket, and he also closed it with a layup. The Celtics finished the second quarter on a high, too, taking a 56-49 lead into halftime.
Boston shot a total of 43.8 percent from the field and made five 3-pointers in the first half. Thomas (15 points), Olynyk (15) and Bradley (14) led the way offensively, while Orlando’s bench (24 total points) did most of the damage for the away squad.
CELTICS TAKE CONTROL
Orlando didn’t have much trouble scoring in the third quarter, but Boston remained hot from the floor and built a sizable advantage.
Johnson imposed his will down low, as he reached a double-double through with 11 points and 10 assists through three frames. Thomas continued his impressive offensive showing, too, adding another eight points in the third, as the Celtics built up a 91-78 advantage heading into the final 12 minutes.
C’S HOLD ON DOWN STRETCH
The Magic had one last run in them, as they crawled their way back to withing six points midway through the final quarter.
But Bradley stopped the bleeding momentarily with a 19-foot jumper. Orlando stuck around, but a Thomas driving layup put an exclamation point on the victory for the C’s in the final minute.
The Celtics received some good news on the injury front heading into Monday’s game, as Jonas Jerebko returned to the bench after missing two games with a swollen foot.
Crowder, who is expected to miss two weeks with a high ankle sprain, also is “progressing well,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters, according to MassLive.com. However, Crowder isn’t quite ready to return to the lineup.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Some nifty passing led to this Olynyk 3-pointer at the end of the second quarter:
The Celtics get a rematch with the Toronto Raptors in Boston on Wednesday. Tip-off for that contest is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images