June 18, 2018
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Celtics edge Magic for second straight victory

By Tim Povtak, The Sports Xchange

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Boston Celtics won their second consecutive game Friday night by using a smothering defense and a well-balanced attack to beat the Orlando Magic 91-89 at the Amway Center.

Forward Brandon Bass led the Celtics with 16 points, including a pair of free throws with 10.5 seconds remaining. Point guard Avery Bradley, who finished with 14 points, made one of two free throws with :03.5 remaining.

Guard Arron Affalo led the Magic with 23 points, including nine in the final 1:38 that almost spoiled the Celtics night.

The Magic held a 56-50 rebound edge, but they also led in turnovers, 20-11, which cost them a chance to win.

The Celtics never trailed in the fourth, leaning heavily on Bradley and the defense.

The Magic got 14 points and 13 rebounds from center Nikola Vucevic and 12 points from point guard Jameer Nelson, who hit a pair of 3-point baskets in the fourth quarter.

Afflalo completed a four-point play with 1:38 remaining to close the deficit to 86-84. He finished a 3-point play with 26 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 88-87. His final basket came with :04.6 remaining and cut the deficit to one.

Bradley completed a pair of 3-point plays midway in the fourth quarter to give the Celtics a 81-77 advantage.

The Celtics turned a three-point halftime deficit into a 71-68 lead going into the fourth quarter. Forwards Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass led the third-quarter charge with six points apiece.

The Magic led 49-46 at intermission, riding another strong start by center Nikola Vucevic, who had 12 points in the first period, and another good defensive stand. Vucevic, though, didn’t score again until five minutes into the fourth quarter when he tied the game at 75.

The Magic made a 12-0 run early and led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter. Boston guard Courtney Lee helped close the gap by scoring 11 points in the second period when he hit four of his six shots.

The Celtics, who play in Miami Saturday night, had beaten the Magic eight consecutive games.

NOTES: Brad Stevens of the Celtics and Jacque Vaughn of the Magic are 37 and 38 years old, respectively, the two youngest coaches in the NBA this season. … The Magic went into the game as the top rebounding team (48.4 rpg) in the NBA. “That’s a good early sign for us,” Vaughn said. “Our smalls are committed to helping the bigs rebound. And we have a group of bigs who enjoy mixing it up. At the core of that is effort.” … Celtics veteran G Gerald Wallace played as a reserve for the second consecutive game, an unfamiliar role for him after spending much of his career as a starter. … Stevens, in his first season as a coach in the NBA, said he still spends considerable time following Butler University, where he coached the previous six seasons. And so does the rest of his family. “I invested a lot in those guys, and you don’t want to lose track of them,” he said. “I’ll be interested to know if my family will be watching our game (in Miami) or the Butler game Saturday night.” … Magic rookie G Victor Oladipo has a big fan in Stevens, who coached against him in each of the previous two seasons when he played at Indiana University. “Last year, in one game, he grabbed a loose ball and laid it in while our guys (at Butler) were still diving for it, and I remember thinking, “Oh, my goodness, is he athletic and quick.’ He’s an energy player.”


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