On the day of the Super Bowl, two Eastern Conference bottom-feeders essentially playing for the future took part in a Toilet Bowl on Sunday afternoon in Boston.
The Celtics (16-33), led by 19 points and 10 assists from Rajon Rondo, who played his best game since returning from injury, snapped a four-game losing streak and went on to beat the Orlando Magic, 96-89.
Rondo was limited to just 27 minutes of play after a questionable foul call early in the third quarter gave him his fourth personal. Because of foul trouble, he was forced to sit for the rest of the period. When he did play, the skilled point guard made his presence known with his crisp passing and accurate shooting. Rondo was 9-of-11 from the field after shooting just 28 percent in his first six games.
The Celtics also received strong play from Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass. The big men helped the Celtics stay ahead for most of the game, especially when Rondo was out in the third. Sullinger scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Bass added 19 points and nine rebounds in a game in which the Celtics out-rebounded the Magic, 44-39. The duo combined for 24-of-30 shooting. Avery Bradley added 17 in the win in his first game back after missing the last five due to an ankle sprain.
Meanwhile, Jeff Green struggled offensively and was just 2-for-13 from the field. That said, Green had the defensive play of the game on an emphatic block on a Magic fastbreak early in the third quarter. Aaron Afflalo went up for a layup before Green came out of nowhere to swat the ball away into the stands.
Afflalo entered the game on Sunday trying to prove that he was snubbed from the Eastern Conference All-Star team. The former UCLA guard has nearly doubled his points per game average this season with the Magic. However, his 18 points were not good enough as the Magic went on to lose their 16th game out of their last 19.
The Magic (13-36) received balanced scoring as all five of their starters hit double figures. Nikola Vucevic scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Glen Davis, a member of the 2008 Celtics’ championship team, was also effective, scoring 15 points. Magic rookie Victor Oladipo played 38 minutes but was just 3-of-16 from the field. The team was missing Jameer Nelson, was was out due to a knee injury.
After falling behind early in the first quarter, the Magic were never really able to take it to the next level and outplay the Celtics. They led just once midway through the first, but a Brandon Bass dunk gave the Celtics a 14-12 advantage and they would never trail again.
The Celtics led by as much as 12 points in the second quarter and sustained their lead throughout the third. In the fourth, the Magic made a run and cut the lead to 77-76 with 6:11 to go. However, the Celtics would outscore the Magic 19-13 over the last six minutes to hold on to win.
Both teams struggled from the three-point line. The Celtics and Magic combined for 9-of-28 shooting from downtown.
The Magic fell to 3-22 on the road this season after the loss. With the victory, the Celtics have now won 11 of their last 12 against Orlando and have won the season series for four consecutive seasons. The Celtics have also won seven straight at home against Orlando and will go on the road to take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.