The Celtics were without two starters and their sixth man entering Monday’s matchup with Orlando. They lost a third starter for a four-minute stretch of the third quarter, and that brief absence was all Orlando needed to take control of the game.
Jayson Tatum canned a 3-pointer from the right wing with 6:58 remaining in the third period to give the Celtics a 68-66 lead. This was after they had previously fallen behind by as many as 14 points, and that shot felt as if it had turned the game into Boston’s favor. But it was the next turn that prevented such a scenario from becoming reality.
Right after Tatum canned that triple, he planted his left foot and turned over his right shoulder to trot back on defense. As he twisted his body, though, he seemingly tweaked something in his right abdominal area. He purposely fouled Gary Harris at the other end of the court, checked himself out of the game, and went straight back to the locker room to be examined.
Orlando took full advantage of Tatum’s absence by immediately rattling off a 10-0 run and a 20-5 run overall over the next four-plus minutes. The Magic made seven consecutive field goals to account for the run, while Boston shot a woeful 2-for-10.
Tatum reappeared from the locker room shortly thereafter and re-entered the game with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter. However, Orlando had already built confidence and momentum and rode those waves to the finish line while maintaining a lead for the remainder of the night.
This Key Player performance didn’t ignite a Celtics win, but it was a welcomed sign that could impact the team in a positive way moving forward.
Sam Hauser finally got his shooting rhythm back after a brutal stretch of shooting that dated back to late-November. He came off Boston’s bench to score 13 points on nine shots, which included three makes on six attempts from beyond the arc.
This contest marks the first instance of 2023 in which Hauser made multiple 3-pointers while making at least half of his attempts. He had accomplished that feat a whopping 10 times by the end of November, and this marks just the third instance since.
With Boston battling the injury bug right now, with the return dates of Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams still unknown, the team needs as many reserves to step up their game as possible. Hauser certainly did that Monday night while compiling 13 points, two rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot, and Boston will be hoping for more of the same moving forward.
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston made seven more 3-pointers than Orlando, yet still lost by 15.
- Nine players in the game scored in double-figures (five by Orlando, four by Boston).
- Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum led the game in scoring with 26 points apiece.
- No player on the Celtics grabbed more than six rebounds, while two Magic players did so.
- Wendell Carter Jr. led the game with 11 boards and he also scored 21 points.
- Orlando outscored Boston 54-32 in the paint and 24-6 in fast break points.
- Tatum stuffed the stat sheet with 26 points and team highs of six rebounds and seven assists.
- Sam Hauser came off the bench to score 13 points for Boston.
- All five of Boston's starters grabbed a steal, while no reserve did so.
- Paolo Banchero led Orlando with 23 points, while Cole Anthony scored 18 off the bench.
- The Magic doubled the Celtics up in makes from the free-throw line by a count of 16-8.
Quote of the Night
"Credit to Orlando. They played hard. They played physical. They played with an edge the entire game."- Joe Mazzulla on the Orlando Magic