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Four-game winning streak boosts Celtics to .500
BOSTON -- There aren't many people who figured the Boston Celtics would be 4-4 after the first eight games of Brad Stevens' pro coaching career.
Especially after they lost their first four games.
The Celtics, left for dead with forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and guard Jason Terry traded to the Brooklyn Nets and point guard Rajon Rondo still recovering from knee surgery, earned four wins over in the past six nights. On Monday, they cruised to a 120-105 victory over the defensive-minded Orlando Magic.
"All of a sudden, we're 4-4 and we've got the whole world figured out -- when in essence that was only like seven days ago we were 0-4. This thing can turn quick," said Stevens, downplaying both the 0-4 run and the 4-0 run after his team beat Orlando for the second time in four nights.
"With our schedule as it continues this month, it can turn real quick, so you just gotta focus on day to day and game to game, and see how good you can be on that night. And know that you always have a chance."
Guard Avery Bradley went 10-for-15 from the floor and led seven Celtics in double figures with 24 points. Jordan Crawford played a near-perfect point guard game to lead the rout. He scored 16 points, dished out 10 assists, had no turnovers and grabbed five rebounds in 33 minutes. He has had 23 assists and five turnovers since moving into the starting lineup ... four games ago.
"I was blessed with court vision," Crawford said. "When a teammate's open, you find him."
Last Friday night in Orlando, the Celtics shot 36 percent from the field, including 2-for-14 from 3-point range. Before Monday's game, Stevens made it clear they had to shoot better, and they shot 60 percent, including 5-for-12 from behind the 3-point arc.
And they did it against a team that came in ranked fourth in the NBA in defensive efficiency.
Celtics rookie center Kelly Olynyk, getting his second pro start, scored 16 points and had seven rebounds. Guard Jeff Green, the last-second hero in Miami on Saturday night, also scored 16.
"I think everybody's playing with a lot of confidence right now," Crawford said. "We're coming together."
Said Olynyk: "Obviously, it feels a lot better to win than lose in any situation. It gives you confidence. It keeps your legs fresh under you. Everyone wants to win."
Guard Arron Afflalo led six Magic players in double figures with 18 points, while rookie guard Victor Oladipo came off the bench to score 17. Center Nikola Vucevic had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Magic (3-5) dropped their third in a row.
"We did a poor job tonight," Afflalo said. "I mean just ... they made a lot of shots tonight, so you have to give them credit, too. We just didn't find a way to stop them. They shot 65 percent or something crazy like that.
"They were hot, so there was nothing we could do."
Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said, "I think Brad should send me a fruit basket. Ever since the second quarter of our game at our place, things have gone in the opposite direction. His team is playing extremely well, and we haven't played as well. It just tells you about the league."
The Magic shot 45.9 percent and outrebounded the Celtics 37-36.
NOTES: The game was a matchup of the NBA's two youngest coaches: Boston's Brad Stevens the youngest at 37, while counterpart Jacque Vaughn is 38. ... The Celtics have two more games at home this week, with the Charlotte Bobcats visiting Wednesday and the Portland Trail Blazers arriving Friday. The Magic play their next three at home, starting with Wednesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks. ... The Celtics' 0-4 start (followed by the winning streak) was the club's first since 1969, the year after Bill Russell and K.C. Jones retired. That team also won the next three in 1969 but then lost seven straight and never reached .500. ... The teams combined to shoot 37.6 percent from the field Friday night in Orlando. ... The Celtics had a pregame moment of silence for the typhoon victims in the Philippines. They also played interviews with veterans on the big screen throughout the Veterans Day game.