The Boston Celtics closed out 2021 with a dominant win over one of the NBA’s top teams. Could they start 2022 with a repeat against one of the league’s lesser teams?
The answer was “yes” — but it took overtime and a career-high 50 points from Jaylen Brown to do it.
The Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic tonight at TD Garden, 116-111, with a sensational comeback to close the fourth quarter, overcoming a 14-point deficit in the final 4:20. Jaylen scored 21 in that period. For the game, he made 19 of 29 shots and added 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Brown also won a jump ball with 8 seconds left in the OT and the Cs protecting a 3-point lead.
The Magic were led by Terrence Ross’ 33 points off the bench, including a 4-point play in OT that almost saved the day for the Magic.
The Magic entered the game with a brutal 7-29 record and a four-game losing streak. Orlando was missing several players, notably guard Cole Anthony (ankle). Meanwhile, the Celtics saw Dennis Schroder return from health & safety protocols, but were still without Jayson Tatum (out of protocols but in need of reconditioning), Romeo Langford (illness) and — in a bit of terrible timing after his triple-double last game — Robert Williams (sprained big toe).
Schroder got the start with Al Horford, Grant Williams, Brown and Marcus Smart.
The Celtics jumped ahead 7-0 in the opening minute, as the Magic airballed their first two attempts. The lead grew to 16-5 as the Cs blocked 4 shots, but Wendell Carter, Jr. scored 7 straight to spark a 12-2 Magic run. Boston’s defense then stepped up, forcing a 24-second violation that triggered a 10-2 answer. After one, it was 28-19, Celtics, led by Marcus Smart’s 10 points and this sweet assist.
A pair of triples by Jaylen boosted the lead to 37-23 three minutes into the second quarter. However, the Magic hung around thanks to Celtics turnovers: a whopping 9 in the second quarter, and a season-worst 14 total for the half. As a result, Boston’s shooting cooled off (7 of 19 in the period) and Orlando crawled back to 45-42 at halftime. Jaylen was the main turnover culprit with 5, but he also led all scorers with 17 points on efficient 6 of 10 shooting.
The third quarter began with — are you surprised? — another turnover, leading to a Tim Frazier three that tied the score at 45. The Magic flubbed a couple of transition opportunities to take the lead, and the Cs regrouped behind a 7-point burst from Jaylen to lead again, 55-49.
By now, though, the Magic were believing in themselves. When Smart was called for a blocking foul with 3:17 remaining, Gary Harris made a pair at the line to give Orlando its first lead, 63-61. Ross got a driving and-one to fall, Grant picked up a technical for his reaction, and it was a 4-point play.
That opened the floodgates. The Magic outscored the Celtics 20-4 over the last four minutes, capped by triples from Ross and Mo Bamba, to take a 77-65 lead. The Celtics also hurt themselves with another half-dozen turnovers in the quarter.
The Celts upped their defense to open the fourth with a 10-2 run, but the Magic refused to fold, answering with 8 straight. They led 96-82 and looked to have the game in the bag, but Jaylen scored 14 points in the 18-4 run to tie the game.
Schroder hit a big three and scored 8 points in the extra 5 minutes. Horford’s corner three with 27 seconds left put Boston up by 4 and the Magic couldn’t recover.
For more postgame coverage of the Boston’s first game of 2022, tune into the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on CLNS Media right after the game. Join A. Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss Jaylen Brown’s big scoring night, Terrence Ross being a Celtic-killer, and the clutch finish.