The good news: Kyrie Irving didn’t miss a beat after sitting out the Boston Celtics’ last game due to injury.
The bad news: The rest of his teammates did.
Irving’s game-high 40 points weren’t enough Sunday afternoon at TD Garden, as the Orlando Magic used a strong third quarter to earn a 103-95 victory and hand the Celtics their third consecutive loss.
Boston falls to 34-13 with the defeat, which gave the team its longest losing streak of the season to date.
Jaylen Brown added 17 points while Marcus Morris contributed 12, but the Magic put five players in double figures in a balanced effort that included a 32-point third quarter to take the lead for good.
Here’s how this one went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Al Horford
Boston’s first quarter belonged almost exclusively to Irving and Brown, who combined to score 23 of their team’s first 25 points.
Irving led the way with 15 first quarter points on 6-of-7 shooting, while Brown chipped in with eight of his own in a somewhat frantic first quarter that featured nine total turnovers. The C’s made just two of their first eight shots out of the gate but capitalized on some sloppy Magic play later in the frame to take a one-point lead heading into the second quarter.
The Celtics weren’t exactly a model of defensive excellence in the second quarter.
Boston suffered several breakdowns on defense in the period, allowing Orlando to drop 30 points — 15 of which came from Evan Fournier and D.J. Augustin — on 63.2 percent shooting.
Fortunately for the C’s, their offense was up to the task. Marcus Morris racked up 10 points in the frame while Irving added nine more to finish with 24 first-half points, and Boston closed the half on an 8-2 run to take a one-point lead into the locker room.
The Celtics continued to struggle defensively in the second half. But this time, the offense couldn’t save them.
Orlando ripped off a 9-2 run early in the third quarter and never looked back, outscoring Boston 32-12 in an abysmal frame for Brad Stevens’ club. Fournier and Elfrid Payton led the charge with seven and eight points, respectively, as the Magic capitalized on a whopping eight Celtics turnovers to pull ahead.
Irving was the Celtics’ only source of offense in the quarter, scoring eight of his team’s 12 points while Boston shot a woeful 4 of 17 from the floor to enter the fourth quarter trailing 90-71.
As they always do, the C’s battled until the end, cutting the Magic’s lead to single digits with under three minutes to play after an Al Horford 3-pointer.
But they dug themselves too deep a hole, as Shelvin Mack and Khem Birch scored back-to-back buckets in the final two minutes to seal the win for Orlando.
PLAY OF THE DAY
At least Irving brought his A-game.
The Celtics kick off four-game West Coast road trip Tuesday night when they take on Lonzo Ball and the Lakers in Los Angeles. Game time at Staples Center is set for 10:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images