Undermanned Magic Take Celtics to Overtime Before Falling Short

Markelle Fultz
by Josh Cohen

The Lead

The Orlando Magic’s starting lineup on Sunday against the Boston Celtics featured Nikola Vucevic, Gary Clark, James Ennis III, Wes Iwundu and D.J. Augustin. Aside from the obvious that they had never started together before, these five had actually never been on the court at the same time in any prior game. That certainly wasn’t conspicuous, as the undermanned Magic gave the C’s all they can handle before falling short in a 122-119 overtime defeat.

The Key Moments

Vucevic, who posted 26 points and 11 rebounds, put Orlando up five with 48 seconds left in regulation when he spun into the lane and connected on a shot over Jayson Tatum. Tatum quickly responded for the Celtics, as he knocked down a 3-pointer with 37 seconds remaining and then sank a tying-jumper along the baseline with 4.2 ticks left to force the extra session. The Magic had a chance to send the game into a double OT, but Vucevic’s 3-point attempt right before the final buzzer came up just a bit short.

The Sidebar

The Magic were without several core players against the Celtics. Aaron Gordon missed his second straight game with a strained left hamstring. Evan Fournier was sick with a non-COVID-19 illness. Michael Carter-Williams sat out for a third consecutive contest with a sore left foot. Jonathan Isaac is out for the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL a week ago.

The Top Performers

Clark, a mid-season pickup by the Magic after he was waived by the Rockets in early January, recorded 15 points, 12 of which came from 3-point range. His other bucket was an AND-1 with 1:23 left in overtime that pulled Orlando within one. Markelle Fultz, meanwhile, flirted with a triple-double with 16 points, six rebounds and 10 assists. He also had an impressive chase-down block on Kemba Walker. Melvin Frazier Jr., who had played a total of four minutes in the seeding games prior to Sunday’s contest, scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes.

The Big Picture

Right now the Magic’s goal is to be playing in a manner that will make them a factor in the postseason, regardless of whether they end up playing the Raptors as the No. 7 seed or the Bucks as the No. 8 seed. The Nets, the team Orlando is battling with for that No. 7 seed, play the Clippers later Sunday night. If Brooklyn wins that game, they clinch the seventh spot. If not, the door will still be open for the Magic to eclipse them. Orlando plays Brooklyn on Tuesday. At this point, seeding and opponent isn’t really as big of a deal as getting healthy and playing well going into the playoffs is.

Quote of the Night

“That’s something that Coach always talks about. From the (moment) we came in the bubble, having everybody ready (is important) because in order to go deep you have to have the whole team. I think our guys are staying prepared and staying ready and tonight was one of those nights when the next guy stepped up but we came up short.” – Fultz on team’s spirit and mentality despite being very shorthanded.

Up Next

The Magic will take on the Nets on Tuesday at 1 p.m. At the moment, the Magic are two games behind the Nets for the No. 7 seed. Brooklyn is in action later Sunday night against the Clippers. If the Nets win, they will lock up the seventh spot. If they lose, Tuesday’s game becomes critical from a seeding standpoint. Orlando beat Brooklyn in its first seeding game at Disney.

Get Off The Bench. Get Into the Game. VOTE.

Prepare now to vote in the general election this November.

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