It all came down to the final play. That final play didn’t go Boston’s way.
The C’s trailed by five points with 39.0 seconds remaining but battled their way back to have possession with the ball, trailing by two, with 2.9 seconds remaining. Brad Stevens used his final timeout to advance the ball into the frontcourt and to draw up a play.
That play had multiple options, and Gordon Hayward was given the responsibility to choose the option with which to go. He was Boston’s inbounder.
Hayward wound up choosing to go with the first option on the play, which was Jayson Tatum curling to the corner off of a screen by Al Horford. Hayward got the pass in to Tatum cleanly while Tatum caught the ball with his back to the basket.
Tatum was defended by Khem Birch, and Birch stuck with him the whole way through. After catching the pass, Tatum took one dribble toward the baseline and fired up a step-back jumper from 21 feet away over a great contest by Birch. Tatum got the ball off cleanly for the potential game-tying jumper, but his shot bounced off the far side of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
With that, Orlando secured a 105-103 victory, and the Celtics fell to 0-2 on their three-game road trip.
Brad Stevens said before Saturday’s game in Orlando that Al Horford’s left knee is feeling much better and that the big man is now cleared to play 30 or more minutes. After tip-off, Horford proved his coach’s words to be very true.
Horford was outstanding all night long while taking on the Magic and their leading scorer, center Nikola Vucevic. Boston’s starting center filled the stat sheet with a team-best 11 rebounds to go along with 10 points, four assists, a game-high three steals and one blocked shot. Those three steals were one more than Orlando’s entire team grabbed.
The Celtics outscored Orlando by 21 points while Horford was on the floor, which was by far the top plus/minus rating on the team. The next-highest rating was plus-13, by Kyrie Irving.
Box Score Nuggets
- All five of Boston's starters scored in double-figures, led by 25 points from Kyrie Irving.
- Jaylen Brown was the only Celtics reserve who scored more than eight points.
- Aaron Gordon tallied a game-high 28 points to go along with 12 rebounds.
- Nikola Vucevic notched a double-double consisting of 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
- Al Horford's three steals were a game high and were one more than Orlando's team total.
- The Celtics shot just 19-for-28 from the free-throw line.
- After scoring just 41 points during the first half, Orlando scored 64 during the second half.
- Boston shot a woeful 9-for-32 from long range.
- Terrence Ross led all reserves with 25 points.
- Boston outscored Orlando in the paint (40-36), in second-chance points (17-13) and in fast break points (18-9) yet still lost.
Quote of the Night
We've worked on that play countless times and I've seen JT (Jayson Tatum) hit that countless times, so I felt like it was a good shot.
Gordon Hayward on the final play of the game.