There was no sense of urgency as the final seconds ticked off the clock at TD Garden. There was no sense of the infamy this team was about to set. No feeling of pride in the jersey the team was wearing. No sense of what futility this team was putting forward.
Earl Clark casually hoisted another 20-footer that clanked hard off the back rim and landed safely in the hands of a Boston player. There was no avoiding it now. The Celtics, shorthanded and struggling, sent the Magic into the record books for all the wrong reasons.
Clark’s jumper would not have prevented Orlando from setting all the wrong kinds of records. There was one, one seminal record this team had to feel the need to avoid. Nobody expected the Magic to need a rallying effort to avoid the kind of infamy that is reserved for the worst teams in franchise history.
The fewest points scored in team history.
That is unfathomable for a team with Dwight Howard on the roster! How could a team get beat that badly? How could so many shots clank out? How could an offense be bogged down that much?
The Celtics found a way to do that in an 87-56 beat down. Those 56 points are the fewest points scored in team history, one short of the record set in 1997 against Cleveland.
Orlando got beat from the start. Boston, playing without Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, absolutely smothered the team defensively. Dwight Howard had 12 points in the first quarter and then failed to score a field goal the rest of the game. The offense struggled as he struggled to hit short layups.
The offense further struggled as rookie guard Avery Bradley hounded Jameer Nelson and prevented the Magic from getting set offensively. Nelson scored only five points and had five turnovers. The Magic were often starting offensive possessions 10 seconds into the shot clock and were unable to go to second or third options. It was one pass and then a forced shot. Boston was as strong defensively as you would expect from a Boston team.
The Celtics energy over the Magic was apparent throughout. It bears out in the statistics for sure.
On to the other franchise lows.
Orlando scored a franchise low 20 points in the second half, breaking the previous record of 21 set in 2001. Orlando made only 16 field goals, breaking the previous record of 21 set twice in 2001 and 1997. Orlando hit on only 24.6 percent of its attempts, breaking the previous record of 25 percent set in 2001.
The second half was all about chasing points and hero ball, especially from Dwight Howard who just seemed to look for his own shot and to draw fouls without regard to open teammates or even where the defense was (he would turn right into the defense on occasions). That kind of mentality permeated the team.
Ryan Anderson, failed to make a shot in eight tries and was just hoisting 3-pointers at one point trying to get something to go in. Hedo Turkoglu was still a little slowed by his hip injury and foul trouble kept him from being anywhere near effective. But he did not even try to drive. Every other player was more or less non-existent.
The players Orlando relies on for points and creation simply could not create against an energetic, pressure defense. Stan Van Gundy noted the pressure took the Magic aback and they never quite recovered enough to be aggressive and attack it.
There were moments of good play. Eventually Boston’s defense and energy became too much. The Magic would not or could not match it.
The beginning of the game saw some great play as Howard was able to get baskets to fall, find a rhythm, make a few passes and hit free throws. Howard scored 12 of his 18 points and made all four of his field goals in the first quarter.
The Magic had 12 assists on 16 field goals. If it were the middle of the second quarter that would be a good thing. It just showed how important quick ball roations and passing can make an offense relatively effective even on a bad shooting night.
Glen Davis even provided some energy, hawking after offensive rebounds and giving the Magic extra chances to score. The offense was so bogged down as the team searched for points that no longer mattered. Eventually that spurt of energy was gone.
Boston held a slim lead until Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley got running late in the second quarter and extended the lead to 10. The Celtics very slowly pushed the lead out as they struggled offensively themselves.
Eventually, Orlando lost whatever spirit it had to fight defensively (and the defense was decent for most of the night) as shots continued to miss and turnovers piled up. The Magic had eight turnovers — the same number they committed in the entire first half — and saw a manageable 10-point deficit balloon to 23 points. Only scoring 10 points in the quarter did not help and the rest of the game was hopeless.
Rhythm would not return and neither would any semblance of ball movement.
I would waste more words, but you get the idea how bad this one was. Everyone sucked. Stan Van Gundy said it best. There was no one to point the finger at, everyone played poorly. Dwight Howard played poorly. Jameer Nelson played poorly. J.J. Redick played poorly. Ryan Anderson played poorly. Van Gundy (and he admitted this too) coached poorly and could not get the Magic anything open.
The good news is, there is another game tomorrow. A chance to forget this infamy and play again.