Denton: Magic vs. Celtics Analysis (1/19/14)

   

Orlando’s 36 free throw attempts were its most since March 13, 2012, an overtime victory against the Miami Heat. The Magic made 29 free throws on Sunday, getting 27 makes from the starters.

Humphries, who is likely being showcased for a potential trade, had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Rajon Rondo had six points, six rebounds and four rebounds in limited minutes after coming back from knee surgery. Green added 22 points, but his free throw miss with 33 seconds left cost the Celtics.

The Magic are about to hit a difficult stretch of games over the next 10 days. The Magic fly to New York on Monday to face the Nets on Tuesday. They are back at the Amway Center on Wednesday to face the Hawks for a fourth time this season. After hosting the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Orlando departs for a three-game trip to New Orleans, Detroit and Toronto.

Orlando came into Sunday night having already lost twice this season to the Celtics. Boston snapped the Magic’s three-game winning streak early in the season when they won 91-89 in Orlando. The Celtics won 120-105 a week later in Boston.

Both of those games were without Rondo, who returned from 2013 knee surgery on Friday. He started against the Magic on Sunday, but he was once again on a minutes restriction.

``We all talked about playing for one goal and that was a victory,’’ said Magic center Kyle O’Quinn, who had 10 points, nine rebounds and a block off the bench. ``This was a big relief. We had to break (the losing streak) at some point and it was good that we broke it tonight on a team that we had to get a little revenge on. They kind of got at us when we played at their place, so this feels good.’’

Orlando suffered through a dismal third quarter but was still able to take a 66-64 into the fourth quarter. Orlando couldn’t handle prosperity early in the third quarter, blowing a nine-point lead when Boston went on a 13-2 run. The poor third quarter performance was similar to Friday when Orlando squandered a five-point lead to Charlotte in the third period and never recovered.

Orlando played with great energy and with a distinct sense of urgency in the first half and led 53-46 at intermission. Impressively, Orlando dug its way out of an early 11-point hole and dominated the game for much of the second quarter.

After scoring just 18 points in the first period, Orlando ran its way to 35 points in the second quarter. The Magic made 11 of 20 shots in the second period with seven of those field goals coming off assists. The Magic also got to the free throw line 13 times in the period with 12 makes.

Oladipo, who had nine points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots, said the team took a major step on Sunday night by bonding together for a common goal. He said he could feel the sense of urgency to win throughout the game with plays that his teammates made. Now, he added, it’s just about repeating that again and again.

``Everybody wanted to win today and was eager to win. We’ve got to be like that every game,’’ Oladipo said. ``I think when you have a mindset of just playing hard from the jump you will play hard all night. And when your teammates have your back and they are positive it’s hard not to be involved, focused and locked in. When you go in and you feel like your teammates don’t have your back, then you tend to question and second-guess yourself and it tends to lead to negative things and bad body language. But when your teammates are positive … it gives you that second guard and that second juice. So we just have to be consistent with that.’’

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