It seemed like a simple solution. Kyrie Irving scored 40 points, the Celtics were at home, playing against the hapless Magic ranked second-to-last in the Eastern Conference. But the improbable happened Sunday in Boston.
Despite Irving’s 40 points, seven rebounds and five assists, the Celtics somehow lost 103-95 as the Magic stole a surprising road win.
Boston held a one-point first-half lead, but the Magic outscored the Celtics 32-12 in the third quarter. Irving tried to lead a fourth-quarter rally, but Orlando held on despite scoring only 13 points in the fourth.
Pistons guard Avery Bradley came in to the night averaging almost 16 points per game, but had just seven points (on 3-of-12 shooting) in a 101-100 loss to the Nets.
Heat (27-19) at Rockets (32-12) at 8 p.m. ET — Houston with James Harden back, defeated the Warriors Saturday night to get back within shouting distance of the Western Conference top seed. The Heat have quietly been rising up the Eastern Conference standings due to balanced scoring and opportunistic defense. Miami, 15-10 on the road, has won nine of its last 11 games.
Butler also missed Saturday’s win over the Raptors, which ended Minnesota’s two-game losing streak. Butler’s injury is not believed to be serious, but at this stage in the season, the Timberwolves are choosing to be cautious.
Crawford, averaging just under 10 points per game, is dealing with a toe injury. Tyus Jones should earn more playing time Monday with Minnesota thin in the backcourt.
Cozart is still using his old shortstop glove — a faded black Wilson A2000 with six years of wear on it. It measures 11.5 inches and is slightly smaller than the typical third baseman’s glove. Cozart keeps one of those in his duffel bag, and he’s gradually breaking it in with daily games of catch.
In Cozart’s Cactus League debut, the Angels’ infield was playing in, and Cleveland’s Ryan Hanigan hit a bolt directly at Cozart. Cozart reached out in self-defense and snagged the liner, fully cognizant that it could just as easily have been a chopper that required him to charge the ball and make an off-balance throw. Such is life at third base.