NBA games are filled with runs. Some are more substantial than others, and on Sunday in Boston, the most important one came in the final few minutes of regulation. The Celtics used an 18-4 run in the final 4 ½ minutes to force overtime, where led by Jaylen Brown, who scored a career-best 50 points, they fended off the Orlando Magic 116-111.
Most players coming out of health and safety protocols need time to shake off the rust. Not Terrence Ross, however, as the 6-foot-6 veteran scored a season-best 33 points in his return from a seven-game absence. Gary Harris was also terrific with a season-high 23 points. It was his fourth 20-plus-point performance with the Magic.
Ross converted on a four-point play with 1:07 left in the extra session to trim Orlando’s deficit to two. Wendell Carter Jr., after blocking Josh Richardson’s driving layup attempt, split a pair of free throws on the Magic’s next possession. Al Horford, however, off a drive-and-kick feed from Brown drilled a corner 3-pointer with 27.4 seconds left to extend the Celtics’ back to four.
Brown’s 50 points is the most ever scored against the Magic by a Celtic. The previous high was 46, set by Larry Bird on March 16, 1990.
Robin Lopez (health and safety protocols), Chuma Okeke (health and safety protocols), Cole Anthony (right ankle injury maintenance), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain), and Jalen Suggs (fractured right thumb) were out for Orlando. Jayson Tatum (competition reconditioning), Enes Freedom (health and safety protocols), Aaron Nesmith (health and safety protocols), Romeo Langford (non-COVID illness), and Robert Williams (toe) were unavailable for Boston.
This Day in History
Rony Seikaly erupted for 31 points and made a last-second game-winning layup in overtime to lift the Magic past the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 2, 1997. Damon Stoudamire, who ironically is now an assistant coach for the Celtics, was blocked by Brian Shaw at the buzzer. Derek Strong recorded 21 points for the Magic, while Dennis Scott had 15 points. Stoudamire led Toronto with 32 points and 12 assists.
Can the Celtics, right now a fringe playoff team, find a way to acquire another star without including Tatum or Brown in any trade? That’s the $64,000 question in Boston. If that’s not feasible, would the C’s consider trading either Tatum or Brown if they felt the two didn’t quite complement each other? Before a drastic move like that, perhaps they will look to add more depth, particularly in the backcourt. Currently 21st in assists, they are desperate for more playmaking.
The Magic wrap up their two-game road trip in Chicago on Monday at 8 p.m. when they take on the Bulls, winners of seven straight. DeMar DeRozan, an MVP candidate, buried game-winning buzzer beaters in each of Chicago’s last two victories. It was the first time in NBA history a player hit walk-off buzzer beaters on consecutive days. The only other player to do it in back-to-back games was Bird on Jan. 27 and 29, 1985.
Quote of the Night
“I’m going to treat it as another game. It’s opportunity for us to get better as a team. It’s opportunity for me to get better individually. Like I said last time we played them, I am human. I do have a little chip on my shoulder going to back to Chicago. But at the end of the day, I’m going to treat it as another game and try to walk out of there with a victory.” – Carter on playing his former team on Monday