The Orlando Magic took care of business on their recent home court, going 4-1 at the Amway Center.
On Friday, an even bigger challenge arose: to see if their progress will carry over on the road, starting with league-best Boston at TD Garden.
The Magic (10-20) were up to the challenge, beating the Celtics (22-8) 117-109 for their fifth straight win, their longest streak since the 2020 season. Orlando won three games before the 2019-2020 season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then played the first two seeded games of the regular season in the NBA bubble, giving it a five-game winning streak that spanned nearly five months .
“I’m so proud of these guys,” coach Jamal Mosley said. “I say it all the time, our coaching staff does a phenomenal job with game planning. They take their time and explain to the guys how we want them to go and those guys execute the game plan. You talk about defining the committee, that’s what they did tonight. Every person who has walked up to this floor has made the right contribution.”
Mo Wagner led the Magic on Friday with a team-high 25 points on 9-of-12 shooting and eight rebounds, his second 20-plus point performance of the season.
Paolo Bunchero had 20 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds, while Franz Wagner had 19 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists.
Markelle Fultz had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists, including 6 points in the fourth quarter, before fouling out with 57.9 seconds left.
Cole Anthony added 14 points (7-of-13 shooting), 5 rebounds and 3 assists, while Mo Bamba had 8 points and 12 rebounds off the bench in the Magic’s second road win of the season, giving them a 2-11 record on the way out. Amway Center.
“It was a game where we felt like, ‘Oh, it’s a fluke.’ [or] if we win this game, it will bring us down as a team because we had a four-game winning streak, but it was all at home,” Bunchera said. “We’ve only won one game away from home all year so we felt it was a game to prove to ourselves that we’re going now. We are proud of ourselves.”
The Magic entered Friday with four straight home wins against the Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors (twice) and Atlanta Hawks.
Their defense stepped up at home, ranking 10th in defensive rating — points allowed per 100 possessions — during the stretch.
But the Celtics, who had the league’s best offensive rating led by two top-15 scorers in Jayson Tatum (30.2 points per game) and Jaylen Brown (26.6), faced other challenges.
Tatum (31 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) and Brown (26 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) got their way, but the Celtics’ supporting cast did not do enough: Magic held Boston to 41.7% shooting, including 23, 9 % for 3 s).
“I’m very proud of these guys for doing what we asked them to do,” Mosley said. “Making sure we’re taking care of the paint, rebounding the basketball. Obviously, we can do better defensively without fouls, but for those guys to hone in on the game plan and stick to it, we’re very proud of what they’re doing.”
Boston has stalwart defensive center Robert Williams III back, making his season debut after offseason left knee surgery.
“Defensively, he becomes a rim protector,” Mosley said before the game. “With our ability to get to the paint, we have to find options once we get there. It’s a shame for them, another front threat is on the border. We have to contain the basketball, knowing that it will linger near the rim. Offensive rebounds, our box out will be big.”
The Magic were the ones who dominated the offense with 53 rebounds, including 15 offensive rebounds. This resulted in them scoring 20 second chance points and 7 more field goals.
Al Horford is also back in the Celtics lineup after missing the last five games due to personal reasons.
He had 6 points, 6 rebounds and 1 assist in 16 minutes after being ejected early in the third quarter for a roughing 2 on Mo Wagner.
The Celtics jumped out to a 14-4 lead early in the first after hitting four 3-pointers, but the Magic rallied after that, outscoring Boston 28-14 and closing out the first to take a 32-28 lead. in the second game and a 62-54 lead at halftime.
The Magic opened the third with a 13-2 run to go up 75-56, but the Celtics battled back to cut their lead to 7 in the second half.
With the Magic leading 104-96 with 4:36 remaining, Fultz grabbed an offensive rebound before knocking down a pull-up 2 to give Orlando a 10-point lead. Fultz hit a mid-range jumper on the Magic’s next possession to put them up 108-96 with 3:54 left.
He made a layup and assisted Buncher on a 3-pointer to give the Magic a 113-99 lead with 2:44 left to help seal the win before fouling out.
“You go through that experience early and you have guys that have been there and seen it and understand it’s a 48-minute game,” Mosley said. “It’s going to be a game of runs. They went into their third there, and our guys realized that they have to stay the course, continue to communicate with each other and follow our principles.”
Wendell Carter Jr. (right plantar fascia strain), Gary Harris (right hamstring strain), Jonathan Isaac (left knee injury recovery), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness) and Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) were ruled out Friday.
Carter, Harris and Okeke went to Boston.
They didn’t participate in Friday’s morning shootaround, but worked on the range afterward.
“We’re just going to continue to see how they respond, so their rehab will be on the road and not at home,” Mosley said.
RJ Hampton was not available after the assignment was requested and received with the organization’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic.
Hampton played in Lakeland’s 101-95 home win over the Birmingham Squadron on Thursday, scoring 24 points (9-for-16) in 27 minutes off the bench to help snap a four-game losing streak.
He also played in Friday’s home game against the Texas Legends and will rejoin Orlando in Boston on Saturday before Sunday’s game against the Celtics.