Most of this season, the Boston Celtics have been the team coming out of the gates running, but tonight it seemed like the team lost its mojo since Rajon Rondo was traded. They had to wait until halfway into the first quarter before they made their first field goal, an open jumper from Avery Bradley to make it 4-12, and only hit one more shot in the quarter. They missed 20 out of 22 shots.
Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic had great success playing inside out with center Nikola Vucevic, who had his way with whoever the Celtics threw at him. Vucevic had 10 points out of the Magic's 26 in the first quarter, while the Celtics as a team had only nine.
The Magic got its biggest lead of the season, when they were ahead, 40-15, after four minutes into the second quarter. They didn't slow down much, and the first half ended, 53-30. The Orlando Magic played with much more aggression than the Celtics on both sides of the floor.
In the third quarter, the Celtics tried to turn up the heat a bit on defense, but it was never a full team effort, and the Magic were easily able to shake them off and keep the lead at 85-60 after three quarters.
Two of the Celtics starters, Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger, were almost invisible in this game and were held to four and zero points respectively. Sullinger has been in a huge slump lately and only played nine minutes. He might be moved to the bench already in the Celtics' next game.
In the fourth quarter, Jameer Nelson showed signs of life and in just four minutes, the Celtics were able to cut the lead to fifteen points for the first time since the first quarter. And suddenly, it was a ball game again. It seemed to help Nelson's game that he, in that stretch, played with three old teammates, Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright, who came with him from Dallas, and Brandon Bass, who played in Orlando with Nelson for two seasons.
The Celtics kept hitting their shots, and the Magic kept missing and with a minute and 33 seconds to go, Kelly Olynyk hit a three pointer to make it a one-possession game at 87-90. Boston kept it close until the end, but Orlando prevailed and won, 100-95, to break a four game losing streak.
For the Orlando Magic, the big men Nikola Vucevic and Kyle O'Quinn both had 18 points and a double-double with 14 and 13 rebounds respectively. For the Boston Celtics, Tyler Zeller had another big game with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Jameer Nelson had an almost Rondo-like stat line with nine points and 11 assists.
Next up for both teams are Boxing Day games at home. Orlando will play the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Boston takes on the Brooklyn Nets.