Celtics bullied in disastrous second half en route to blowout loss to Magic

After his team’s brutal overtime loss to the Hornets earlier this week, Kristaps Porzingis acknowledged that the Celtics will win most games because of their talent. But, the big man cautioned, they don’t want to become a team that relies on that. They want to be a team in Joe Mazzulla’s vision, one that shows up every night with the same mindset and effort no matter the opponent.

That’s still a work in progress.

Two nights after their best win of the young season over the Bucks, the Celtics fell back to earth on Friday afternoon in Orlando, where they were punked and bullied by the upstart Magic. They lost their way over the course of a disastrous second half in their largest loss of the season, a 113-96 laugher.

The Celtics missed their chance to clinch a berth into the In-Season Tournament’s quarterfinals with a victory, but Mazzulla will be far more concerned with the troubling trends that followed his team in Orlando.

This was always going to be a tough game for the Celtics, who were without Jrue Holiday (ankle sprain) and lost Porzingis during the third quarter due to calf tightness. A road matinee game the day after Thanksgiving allows for excuses, but the Magic present a matchup nightmare for the Celtics, evidenced by their three victories last season. The C’s know what it takes to beat the physical Magic and still got bullied. They gave up 21 second-chance points. They were crushed in the paint. Mo Wagner – who had a career game with 27 points off the bench – and his Magic teammates had a field day.

Jayson Tatum had 26 points to lead the Celtics, but they fell off a cliff offensively in the second half. The C’s actually held a pair of double-digit leads in this game, including 62-50 with 9:41 left in the third. But then everything went wrong for the Celtics, who missed seven consecutive shots and seemed to let it affect their defense. The Magic went on a 17-0 run to take the lead. The C’s, who didn’t score a field goal for nearly seven minutes, didn’t have a proper counter punch as it all went sideways.

The C’s responded to take a pair of brief leads late in the third but they were run out of the building in the fourth, when the Magic went on an 8-0 to start the period. Wagner scored 13 of his 27 points in the first five minutes of the fourth as the Magic took a 14-point lead and never looked back.

The Celtics scored just 40 points in their disastrous second half, which included an abysmal finish from Jaylen Brown. The Celtics star went 4-for-5 to start the game in another hot start but went just 1-for-14 in the second half, which included several missed layups.

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