Jonathan Isaac made his highly anticipated return after a two-and-a-half-year absence and in his nearly 10 minutes of action scored 10 points, grabbed three rebounds, dished out one assist and collected two steals, as the Orlando Magic beat the Boston Celtics for the third time this season with Monday night’s 113-98 victory at Amway Center.
After the Celtics pulled within two near the halfway point of the fourth quarter, the Magic went on a 10-0 run to reclaim control. Markelle Fultz started and finished the flurry with driving layups and in between were 3-pointers by both Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.
Banchero led the Magic with 23 points on 7-of-13 overall shooting, 3-of-5 3-point shooting and 6-of-9 free throw shooting, while Wendell Carter Jr. recorded his 11th double-double of the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds and Cole Anthony scored 18 points off the bench. Isaac, in addition to the 10 points, three rebounds, one assist and two steals he compiled in his limited minutes, was a plus-seven while on the floor.
The Magic outplayed the Celtics in several key areas. For one, they outscored Boston by 22 in the paint (54-32). They also had 18 more fast break points (24-6) and took 13 more free throws (24-11). For the third straight game, Orlando shot at least 40 percent from 3-point range (11-of-27 on Monday).
It was just the third time this season the Celtics didn’t score at least 100 points. The Magic were the opponent in two of those games. The Clippers were the opponent in the other.
Quote of the Day
“Honestly, just everything. It’s been such a long road. Thinking about all that it has taken to get here. The tough days. The good days, the bad days, and the ups and downs. All of the people that were a part of getting me back. The training staff. We call them the purple people eaters but our players coaches that worked with me tirelessly; Nate Tibbetts and all of those guys. And then just my family, my church family, my faith that I've have been able and fortunate enough to lean on this entire time. I wouldn’t be here. All of that. Obviously, just the adrenaline, everything that’s going on, and just trying my best to stay grounded and grateful. Much love to the Magic for sticking with me and the Magic fans were excited. Just trying to bottle all of that up in one moment. It was surreal.” - Isaac on what was going through his head as he checked into the game at the seven-minute mark of the first quarter
Chuma Okeke (left knee injury recovery) was out for the Magic. Caleb Houstan and Kevon Harris were on G League assignments. Marcus Smart (ankle), Robert Williams III (knee), Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons), and Danilo Gallinari (knee) were unavailable for the Celtics.
This Day in History
One of the Magic’s wilder regular season games in franchise history occurred on Jan. 23, 2001 against the Toronto Raptors. The Magic’s Tracy McGrady and the Raptors’ Vince Carter traded buckets in the final moments of regulation. Orlando would eventually outlast Toronto in double overtime. Mike Miller led the Magic with 24 points, while Carter scored 33 for the Raptors.
Many felt the Celtics were the best team in the league coming into the season. That so far has proven true, as Boston has the best record and is the only the team that ranks in the top five in both offense and defense. Even though they are even better this year than last when they made it to the NBA Finals, the Celtics are going to have a much tougher road in this year’s playoffs. The Sixers, Nets, and Cavs are way better now than they were this time a year ago, while the Bucks, assuming they have a healthy Khris Middleton in the postseason, remain a major threat.
The Magic are back in action at Amway Center on Wednesday for a matchup against the Indiana Pacers at 7 p.m. This will be the third of four meetings this season between them, with the Pacers winning the first two in their home building during the Magic’s extended stay in Indianapolis in November. In the first game, Tyrese Haliburton posted 22 points and 14 assists and Aaron Nesmith scored 19, including a pair of go-ahead free throws with nine seconds left. Bennedict Mathurin led the Pacers in the second contest with 22 points. Franz Wagner scored 29 points in the first meeting and 20 in the second to lead Orlando.