February 20, 2018
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Boston’s balance sinks Magic in fourth straight win

Winslow Townson | USA Today Sports | BDN
Winslow Townson | USA Today Sports | BDN
Boston Celtics point guard Avery Bradley (0) drives past Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson (14) during the second quarter of Boston's 120-105 win at TD Garden in Boston Monday night.
By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON — The suddenly sizzling Boston Celtics roared to their fourth straight victory Monday night.

Guard Avery Bradley went 10-for-15 from the floor and led seven players in double figures with 24 points and Boston beat the Orlando Magic for the second time in four nights, cruising to a 120-105 win.

The Celtics, left for dead with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry traded to Brooklyn and Rajon Rondo still recovering from knee surgery, started the season with four straight losses but have brought the record to 4-4 with four wins in six days.

All this as their fans and the local media talked about losing as many games in Brad Stevens’ first year as an NBA coach as possible to get into the lottery of what is to be a strong NBA draft.

Guard Jordan Crawford scored 16 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed five rebounds. Rookie center Kelly Olynyk, getting his second pro start, also scored 16 points and had seven rebounds.

Guard Jeff Green, the last-second hero in Miami Saturday night, also scored 16.

The Celtics shot 60 percent from the floor.

Guard Aaron Afflalo led six Magic players in double figures with 18 points, while rookie guard Victor Oladipo came off the bench with 17 points. Center Nikola Vucevic had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Magic (3-5) dropped their third in a row.

Before the game, Stevens, asked what he’d like to see his team do in this game, said, “First of all, we have to make perimeter jump shots.” The Celtics then went out and, hitting shots from all over, shot 62.5 percent in the first half.

Midway through the third quarter, Boston was hitting at a 64 percent clip. And the ball

movement was terrific.

NOTES: The game was a matchup of the NBA’s two youngest coaches: Boston’s Brad Stevens the youngest at 37, while counterpart Jacque Vaughan is 38. … The Celtics have two more games at home this week, with the Charlotte Bobcats visiting Wednesday and the Portland Trail Blazers Friday. The Magic have the next three at home, starting with Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. … The Celtics’ 0-4 start (followed by the winning streak) was the club’s first since 1969, the year after Bill Russell and K.C. Jones retired. That team also won the next three but then lost seven straight and never reached .500. … These teams combined to shoot 37.6 percent from the field Friday night in Orlando. … Stevens, on his team’s defense: “I’m the wrong person to ask about how solid we are defensively. I’m not sold yet. I don’t think we’ve defended yet for a full 48 (minutes).” On the other side, the Magic came into the game fourth in the league in defensive efficiency, Vaughan saying, “It’s really just an effort level, a mindset of doing your job over and over again.” … The Celtics had a pre-game moment of silence for the typhoon victims in the Philippines. They also played interviews with veterans on the big screen throughout the game.

Pacers 95, Grizzlies 79

INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George scored 23 points, Lance Stephenson had a triple-double, and the Indiana Pacers remained unbeaten with a 95-79 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.

George had just four points at halftime, but the forward scored 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting in the second half.

Stephenson’s triple-double was the first of his career. The guard had 13 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. The assist total was a career high, and the rebounding total matched his regular-season career high.

Point guard George Hill scored 13 points and forward Luis Scola added 12 for Indiana. The Pacers (8-0) improved on their franchise-best start and dominated a team that played in the Western Conference finals last season.

Center Marc Gasol scored 15 points and forward Zach Randolph added 12 points, and each grabbed six rebounds for the Grizzlies (3-4). Point guard Mike Conley, who entered the game averaging 20.2 points, was held to 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Memphis shot just 41 percent from the field and posted its lowest point total of the young season.

The Pacers held the Grizzlies to 34 percent shooting in the first half to lead 46-39 at the break. Stephenson had eight points, nine rebounds and eight assists in the first half. George, who entered the game as the league’s No. 3 scorer, made only two of eight shots in the opening two quarters.

Two quick buckets by George gave the Pacers a 53-41 lead and caused the Grizzlies to call timeout three minutes into the second half.

The Pacers came up with the ball in a scramble, and forward David West found Stephenson under the basket for a layup that pushed Indiana’s lead to 61-46 and led to another Grizzlies timeout.

Memphis guard Tony Allen was called for a flagrant foul with 1:19 left in the third quarter. George made the first of two free throws, then made a tough up-and-under basket on the extra possession to put the Pacers up 70-52. Indiana led 72-55 at the end of the period.

George scored 13 points in the third quarter on 5-for-6 shooting from the field.


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