Celtics Knock Off Magic For Eighth Straight Win
By TERRANCE HARRIS
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Jaylen Brown scored 18 points and Al Horford added 14 points and 10 rebounds to spark the Boston Celtics to a 104-88 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night.
The Eastern Conference-leading Celtics (8-2) have won eight straight after beginning the season with back-to-back losses. Orlando (6-4), which was tied with the Celtics for the best record in the NBA coming into Friday night, has lost two straight.
Kyrie Irving struggled with his shot in the second half, but Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, Brown and Horford carried Boston offensively. Morris had 14 points in his second game of the season, rookie Jayson Tatum finished with 13 and Smart contributed 11.
Nikola Vucevic, who has been one of the Magic’s top scorers, struggled throughout the night and finished with just 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the field. Leading scorer Evan Fournier also couldn’t get into a rhythm, being held to just six points.
Aaron Gordon scored 18 points and Jonathon Simmons added 14 in his first start at point guard, but with their top two point guards out for a second straight game the Magic’s offense was stagnant most of the night.
They shot just 36 percent from the floor and 21 percent from 3-point range. Orlando was the eighth straight opponent the Celtics have held under 94 or fewer points during their current run.
Irving, who scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half of Friday’s win over Oklahoma City, was held in check by the Magic’s defenders in the second half. He scored 10 points in the first half but didn’t score his first point of the second half until converting a free throw with 3:25 remaining in the game.
The Magic used bigger defenders such as Simmons and Terrence Ross to slow Irving’s scoring. But he found ways to create for his teammates for big baskets, including the 3-pointer Brown converted in the corner on a behind-the-back assist from Irving that put Boston ahead 72-65 late in the third quarter.
Celtics: Morris, who made his season debut during Friday’s win over Oklahoma City, was inserted into the starting lineup for Sunday’s game. Celtics coach Brad Stevens, however, said Morris will not play in Monday’s game at Atlanta. Morris missed the first eight games due to a sore knee. … After a subpar first half on Friday, Irving had 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting in the first half Sunday to help the Celtics take a 49-38 lead into halftime.
Magic: Point guard Elfrid Payton missed his eighth straight game with a strained left hamstring injury, but Magic coach Frank Vogel is expecting him to be ready to go against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. …The Magic converted just 3 of 13 from 3-point range in the first half. Vucevic was 0 for 3 from beyond the arc and Ross went 0 for 2 from 3-point range during the first half. Fournier and Gordon converted one 3-pointer each but were a combined 2 for 6 during the first two quarters.
Celtics: Visits Atlanta on Monday to conclude a back-to-back on the road.
Magic: Hosts the New York Knicks on Wednesday.