The Orlando Magic knocked off another marquee foe on Friday, beating the Boston Celtics 113-96 to boost their bid to reach the knockout stage of the NBA’s new in-season tournament.
Two days after beating the reigning champion Denver Nuggets, the Magic bullied the league-leading Celtics in the second half to push their winning streak to six games.
Moritz Wagner scored 27 points off the bench to lead the Magic and Paolo Banchero added 23 with seven rebounds.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 26 points and Jaylen Brown chipped in 18 — 12 of them in the first quarter.
Brown connected on just two of 17 shots in the last three quarters as the Magic clamped down defensively to hand the Celtics their biggest defeat of the season.
“That’s what we take pride in,” Banchero said of the Magic’s defensive effort. “That’s our calling card.
“We just come into every game focused on what we’ve got to do to stop the team in front of us (and) we did a good job tonight.”
Boston got off to a hot start and led by 11 after one quarter. They were up by eight at halftime and by 12 early in the third when Orlando unleashed a 17-0 scoring run to seize a 67-62 lead.
Boston twice managed to regain the lead in the third quarter, but the Magic opened the fourth on a 10-0 run — capped by Moritz Wagner’s running layup — and rolled from there.
Wagner scored 13 points in the final frame and out-scored the Celtics 65-40 in the second half.
The result saw the Magic conclude group play in the new tournament at 3-1. The Celtics fell to 2-1, level with the Brooklyn Nets and each with a game remaining.
The six group winners and two wild card teams will advance to the knockout stage of the tournament that concludes with semi-finals and the final in Las Vegas in December.
Banchero said the new Cup-style competition, designed to lend interest to early-season games, has been “huge.”
“I’m glad we got the win,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be in good position to move on.”
© Agence France-Presse