BOSTON — Almost nothing the Boston Celtics tried to begin Sunday’s contest was effective in slowing down the force of nature that is second-year star Paolo Banchero. But so long as the the Celtics were in the friendly confines of TD Garden, they would surely find a way to solve the latest puzzle thrown at them on the parquet floor, and the solution they found was a constrictor-like defensive effort in the middle of the game — and a virtuoso late-game showing from Jaylen Brown — in remaining immaculate at home this season.
Brown scored 17 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Celtics turn a close game early in the fourth quarter into a 114-97 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday afternoon. All five Boston starters scored in double figures for the 10th time this season, and all had a hand in holding the Magic to just 66 points combined in the final three quarters.
The Celtics, who completed a perfect 5-0 home stand before a road trip out West starting Tuesday at Golden State, improved to 14-0 at home this season, just three wins shy from tying the franchise record for most consecutive home wins to start a season, set by the 1957-58 team that won its first 17 games at home during the season immediately after the Celtics brought home their first NBA championship.
The Celtics’ last two wins have come against the Magic, a team that had won four consecutive games against Boston, including in their first meeting on November 24 in Orlando in an In-Season Tournament game.
“Certain teams got our number, and Orlando’s been one of those teams in the last year and a half. We wanted to make sure, in this stint, that we kind of set a tone and get over that hump,” Brown said. “And I think we did a good job.”
That job was made much harder in the game’s first 12 minutes, when Banchero scored 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including making three of his four shots from beyond the arc.
Though Banchero continued to thrive, ending the first half with 26 points, Boston tightened up defensively on the rest of the Magic, holding Orlando to 6-of-22 from the floor (and 3-of-16 on players not named Banchero) while outscoring Orlando 34-19 to take a 61-50 halftime lead. The third quarter was more of the same, with the Magic shooting 39 percent from the field in the period, but Orlando outscored the cold-shooting Celtics by two in the quarter to keep themselves within striking distance heading into the fourth.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Sunday afternoon’s event, with all photos taken by Boston-area photographer Erica Denhoff. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 19 pictures in total.