After putting a stop to their three-game skid in Philly, the Celtics grabbed another win at the TD Garden against the Magic on Wednesday night, 109-92 (click here for the box score). The home squad outscored Orlando 31-19 in the fourth quarter to close out the game, something the team has struggled with so far this season.
Brandon Bass led the Celtics with 18 points off the bench, while Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green each had 16 points.
Here’s five things we learned in the win:
RAJON RONDO SHOT WELL IN A NEAR TRIPLE-DOUBLE EFFORT
On a night when trade rumors surrounding Rondo came to light, the point guard came to play. Rondo shot an efficient 6-for-12 from the field en route to 13 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds. Despite six turnovers, Rondo had fantastic command of the game. For one of the first times this season, it seemed he had control over both him scoring the ball and getting his teammates involved — a great sign from Rondo.
THE BIGS GOT TO WORK EARLY
Tyler Zeller scored a quick four points for the Celtics on the first two possessions of the game, followed by nine straight Sullinger points. On the opposite side, Nikola Vucevic and Channing Frye combined for 13 of their own points, all before the halfway point of the first quarter.
After the centers scored the first 10 points of the game, Zeller put in another hoop for his sixth point of the quarter, but it was Vucevic who won the early battle. He finished the frame with 12 points and eights boards, putting on display why he is a candidate to make the All-Star team for the East.
HOT FINISH TO THE FIRST HALF
After falling down by eight points in the second quarter, 43-35, the C’s rallied back to take a lead into the locker room. Rondo and Kelly Olynyk led a 21-10 run to round out the half and get Boston a 56-53 lead. The C’s hit seven of their final 10 shots in the half to spark the run. Olynyk scored eight points in the period, while Rondo posted five points, six rebounds and four assists in just over six minutes on the floor.
THE BENCH WAS STRONG AGAIN
It wasn’t quite the 82-point performance we saw against the Wizards, but the Celtics’ bench was key in their win over the Magic. Even without the likes rookies Marcus Smart and James Young, as well as streaky bench scorer Marcus Thornton, the C’s were still able to get great contributions from the second-unit.
Four players combine for 50 points off the Boston bench: Bass (18) Olynyk (15), Phil Pressey (9) and Evan Turner (8). The foursome played well into the fourth quarter after giving the team such a great spark in the third. Pressey even played the entire fourth quarter, something very rare in Brad Stevens‘ rotation.
TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE SCHEDULE
After a brutal November where the Celtics played almost all playoff teams, the schedule appeared to ease up on the C’s in December. An unexpected three-game losing streak had it looking like things may not turn around this month, but Boston has now won two in a row. The wins have come against poor opponents (Philadelphia and Orlando), but the green will go on to face teams under .500 in their next four contests. Here’s their stretch to fight back towards .500 if they’re going to do it.