Let this sink in next: Dwight Howard had 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting in the first half. He finished with 28 points on 10-for-22 shooting. And his one field goal in the second half did not come until late in the fourth quarter.
Putting the defense aside for now, this team's offense has some issues it needs to figure out. The trades from December were meant to improve a fledgling offense that was having difficulties finding its rhythm and creating shots. It pushed the pace for a short while, but the honeymoon is over.
Boston (and Miami) made sure reality set in for Orlando.
The Celtics shot 80-plus percent in the third quarter and held the Magic below 30 percent to turn a 3-point halftime lead into a nine-point one. Boston could never pull away, leaving a glimmer of hope for Orlando to come back if its 3-pointers would start falling. But the Celtics never gave that glimmer. There was no hope in a 91-80 loss to Boston at TD Garden.
The Magic's offense was stifled by the Celtics' famed defense. Ball rotation was non-existant. After a dominating first half, Howard could not get the ball. And Orlando slowly drifted to the end of the game. Boston had chances to really blow this game out, Orlando hung tough. But there were no answers on the offensive end.
Orlando's offense once again was a mystery. The Magic shot 34.4 percent and a putrid 3 for 24 from beyond the arc and had just 13 assists. To see this team post a 36.0 percent effective field goal percentage and 88.9 offensive rating from THIS team, is just unfathomable. This team has too many offensive weapons for that to happen (at least not without playing good defense to back it up).
What we may be quickly learning is that this team is not fantastic on offense with too many similar pieces and not enough guys who are truly versatile.
In this game, it was Dwight Howard ominating in the first half and then Boston simply dominating in the third quarter. The Celtics were able to get into the paint and move the ball, catching the Magic before they could get their defense set.
The Celtics stayed in the game throughout the first half based on their foul shooting. They were 28 of 34 from the line and seemed to be able to get to the line whenever they needed a boost offensively. Orlando's defense never got into a rhythm and Boston took advantage.
This was not a game to fault the defense for the most part. Orlando gave up its average of 101.1 defensive rating and Boston shot 47.6 percent. But as the shots continued not to fall, the focus on defense waned. That is how the Celtics went on a 7-0 run to start the second half and take complete control of the game.
Orlando could not shoot itself back into this game.
Jason Richards had 10 points and shot 4 for 11. Jameer Nelson scored 10 point son 5-for-12 shooting while saddled with foul trouble and struggling to finish at the rim. Hedo Turkoglu had four points on an icy 1 for 10. JJ Redick had 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting. Gilbert Arenas was non-existant with no points on seven shots.
Those guys need to obviously shoot much better for the Magic to win. To see this many guys go through a shooting slump at the same time for this long though, makes you feel like something more might be up.
Defense is a big problem. But that has shown improvement. Offensively, though, Orlando has lots its identity as a fast-breaking team and has replaced it with a team completely reliant on the 3-pointer. Not a recipe for success.
The Magic have to find some answers or else this season will completely slip away.