The Celtics came from behind late to secure a victory over the Magic at home, their third in a row. Phil Pressey and Kelly Olynyk had solid games for Boston, but Evan Turner was the star of the show, scoring 30 points on 20 shots, with 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and a couple of steals to stuff the rest of the stat sheet.
The Magic showed that their future is bright, with strong performances from Elfrid Payton (20 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds) as well as a double-double from Vucevic, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The game started with a rough first quarter, in which the Celtics shot just 30.8% from the floor, trailed 23 to 19. The starters played with a lid on the basket, as they shot a combined 6 for 23 for a putrid 26%. The story was missed jump shots, until 2 back-to-back threes by Gigi Datome and Kelly Olynyk made the score in the opening frame a little more respectable.
Things improved somewhat in the second quarter. The ball started to fall significantly more, but Boston just did not seem to value the basketball, with several turnovers on bad passes that were just inches too far away from their targets. The shot selection was not great either, with several awkward, difficult layups that didn't have much chance of falling. After a sloppy first half, the Celtics went into the locker room down by 10, with a score of 50-40.
The third quarter was more of the same, with little of the passionate and focused play that has had the Celtics in the hunt for this year's playoffs. Then, at the end of the third quarter, two players in green started to show signs of life - Phil Pressey and Kelly Olynyk put together a great stretch of offensive basketball to bring the Celtics within 6. Both players had solid nights for Boston, with Pressey reminding everyone why Boston has continued to keep him around, and Kelly putting on a clinic from long range. Pressey would finish the night with a double-double of 10 assists, 10 points, 4 rebounds, and some tenacious defense, while the Klynyk would finish shooting 3 for 5 from beyond the arc, with 13 points overall.
In the fourth, Boston was able to tie the game up at 79, off of the energetic play of Pressey, and some long-awaited made shots from his teammates. From that point on, it was an entertaining matchup. The play got a bit less sloppy, and the passion that we have seen this season was front and center. Most importantly, Evan Turner's offense finally showed up. He made a multitude shots in the second half, including one ridiculous floater after a behind-the-back move through contact.
Turner's offensive assault carried the Celtics through the final minutes of the game, leading them to a victory, with a final score of 95-88.
Brad Steven's club is beginning to show that its experience in close games is starting to finally pay off. While it has spent the better part of the past two seasons giving up leads late in games, it is starting to learn how to consistently close out contests, and is being rewarded in the win-loss column as a result. This gritty, come-from-behind victory bodes well for the future, and is a great step forward towards the playoffs for a Celtics team that is showing that it is learning how to win.