A Magical Collapse, and Throwback Failure

There’s just no other way to say it.  It was as if the Boston Celtics were all wearing four-leaf clovers on their jerseys, instead of three.

Or maybe the Celtics found Orlando’s kryptonite in…in E’Twaun Moore?  The rookie from Perdue scored 16 points and hit all four of his 3-pointers as the Magic stumbled, shouted at the refs, and folded — losing all of a 27-point deficit in a stunning 91-83 loss to Boston.

When 3:11 remained in the second quarter, Orlando was up by 27 points and Dwight Howard had been presented with a plaque for being the Magic’s all-time leading scorer.  All those superman trade rumors seemed ancient history.  It looked as though the Magic were going to get revenge for the beat-down they suffered at the TD Garden on Monday, limited to just 56 points off of 16 made field goals, both franchise lows.

That game was embarrassing, but at least it wasn’t on national TV.

Thursday’s epic collapse was Orlando’s biggest blown halftime lead (21) ever in a loss.

“We didn’t play the right way. We’ve got to change. Everybody can’t come down and feel like they have to take the game over,’’ Howard said. “We just have to play team ball and play the way we know how to play and we didn’t do that. We have to play the right way.’’

The Magic team captain did not single anyone out, but forward Ryan Anderson has been playing particularly poorly against the Celtics.  Along with the rest of the Magic, Anderson had a great first quarter with 12 points.  But in the seven other quarters against Boston this season, Anderson has scored exactly 0 points.

From Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. During the break between the third and fourth quarters, (coach Doc) Rivers told Pierce he was going to pull him from the game after the first possession of the fourth. But Moore drained a 3-pointer 37 seconds into the quarter to reduce the deficit to 75-67, and Rivers scrapped his plan. “We saw that they got frustrated,’’ Pierce said. “Yelling at the refs, picking up techs. We started getting to the loose balls. I thought we played with more energy the second half. We hustled. We were the aggressor.’’ Moore started the season missing 23 of 30 shots, but he did not lack for confidence in this one, draining a 3-pointer with 7:39 left that gave the Celtics a 79-76 lead, their first advantage since 10-9. The Magic contributed technicals from Ryan Anderson and Dwight Howard. On offense, they resembled their Monday form, as they could barely complete a pass or take a positive step toward the basket without being harassed by a defender. An offense that made the game look so easy, and the Celtics so helpless, in the first half, was suddenly inept. Glen Davis clanged shots off the rim. Howard couldn’t get position against the cagey defense of Kevin Garnett. The Celtics’ second-half rally began innocently enough with an 8-2 spurt, as they were just trying to show that they were capable of playing hard. But Pierce heated and the deficit continued to dwindle. A Brandon Bass jumper cut it to 68-52 with 3:47 left in the third. A Moore 3-pointer sliced it to 13 with a little more than a minute left in the quarter. And Pierce drained a three with 10.8 seconds left as it was 75-64 heading into the frantic fourth. … The Magic had more turnovers (10) than field goals (8) in the second half, and missed seven free throws and 6 of 8 3-pointers. They have a history of wilting down the stretch in big games, and last night did nothing to dispel that.”

The only other game last hurt the eyes for a different reason as the L.A. Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 98-91.

Memphis lost the style battle before tipoff with some horrendous throwback jerseys.  The Clips jumped out to an early 29-13 lead behind Blake Griffin’s abuse of Dante Cunningham and a hot Mo Williams (18 points, 4 steals). But Memphis fought back after Chris Paul took a seat and turned a laugher into a serious contest, trailing 74-72 at the end of the third.  Griffin finished with 20 points on 8-14 shooting and Paul, despite missing a few gimmie layups and bricking a three so badly I thought Eric Snow was back in the league, finished with 18 points, 7 assists and 7 boards.




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