Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla wasn’t interested in excuse-making. They were without Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford against the No. 2 team in the East, but he knew he had enough.
“Just figure it out,” Mazzulla said pregame.
The Celtics had lost four games in a row to the upstart Magic, including an abysmal defeat the day after Thanksgiving last month. They were a code they couldn’t seem to crack. So, of course, they figured it out while shorthanded.
Jayson Tatum scored 30 points and Jaylen Brown added 18 for the Celtics, who on the second night of a back-to-back, fired on all cylinders despite unideal circumstances. They were humming offensively and suffocating defensively as they took control in the second quarter for a 128-111 over the Magic on Friday night at TD Garden for their fourth consecutive victory.
Without four players – also including Luke Kornet and Dalano Banton – the Celtics received contributions up and down their roster. Derrick White had 19 points and eight assists, Payton Pritchard scored 21 points on six 3-pointers, Sam Hauser added 11 with four of the Celtics’ 14 steals on the night.
The Celtics finished with 31 assists on 48 made field goals and forced the Magic into 21 turnovers as they improved to 13-0 at home.