There was no shock. Only disappointment. When Ray Allen and Paul Pierce checked out of the game with the Celtics out of contention at the 2:30 mark in the fourth quarter, both veterans knew they had done all they could.
This just wasn’t their year.
The Celtics lost, 101-82, to the Orlando Magic at TD Banknorth Garden in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Sunday night. A season after winning the franchise’s 17th NBA title, an injury-depleted Celtics team could not fasten together enough spare parts to keep the engine of a championship contender running.
The home team could not have started the game any worse, committing five turnovers and shooting 39 percent in the first quarter. In addition, the Celtics allowed Orlando to hit five of six 3-pointers in the first as Orlando jumped out to a 27-17 lead.
The Celtics made runs in the second and third quarters, closing to within 4 points at the 6:36 mark in the third. But the Magic stretched the lead out to 13 points just 90 seconds into the fourth, putting to rest any notion of a back-and-fourth duel down the stretch.
Down but not out, fans joined together for an impromptu standing ovation during a timeout at the 10:30 mark in the fourth quarter with the Celtics down 13 points.
The fans may have been in full support of their team down the stretch, but the Celtics struggled on offense and failed to fill the holes in their defense all night. The Magic hit 13 of 21 3-pointers, with Hedo Turkoglu knocking down four of five. On the offensive end, the Celtics shot 39.2 percent of the field, with Kendrick Perkins (3 of 11) failing to find the ocean on a bevy of shots from in close. The Magic led by as many as 21 points in the final frame on their way to the win.
We’ll have plenty of postgame (and season) reaction, video, and analysis from the Garden in a bit.