BOSTON – The trade winds may be blowing at the TD Garden, but the Boston Celtics didn’t seem to be bothered by them Wednesday night. Rajon Rondo posted 13 points, seven rebounds and 15 assists, helping the Celtics pull away with a 109-92 win over the Orlando Magic at TD Garden. Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 13 rebounds for the visitors in the setback.
In the face of reports that Boston’s front office was exploring potential trades involving the team’s long-time point guard, Rondo put his all-around game on display for suitors against the Magic. Early on, that effort was full of sloppiness, as Rondo’s four turnovers helped keep Orlando in the game, despite 70 percent shooting from the Celtics in the first quarter.
The hosts fell behind by as many as 10 points in the second quarter during a scoring drought, but Rondo’s began toying with the Magic later in the period with a plethora of dribble-drives and passes that broke down Orlando’s defense. This trend continues for the rest of the evening for Rondo’s 32 minutes.
Rondo’s play helped the Celtics regain the lead by halftime, but the deciding factor in the contest was the superb effort from the Celtics bench in the second half. Brandon Bass scored 14 of his team-high 18 points after intermission, while Kelly Olynyk put together his second straight stellar performance with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Boston’s five-man bench unit of Olynyk, Bass, Gerald Wallace, Phil Pressey and Evan Turner put together a quick 9-2 run to start the fourth quarter, helping the Celtics build a double-digit lead. From there, Brad Stevens stuck with the bench unit to close out the majority of the contest, as the group’s aggressive offense and shutdown defense (Magic had six fourth quarter turnovers) allowed the Celtics to pull away late.
With the team’s ability to close out games still remaining as a major issue for Boston this season, it was interesting and notable to see Stevens stick with the hot hands late, as Pressey, Bass, and Olynyk played the entire final frame.
The Celtics have now won two straight games and have a good chance for a third consecutive victory Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.