ORLANDO, Fla. — This was a victory that came with a sigh of relief.
The Orlando Magic hung on to beat the Boston Celtics 100-95 on Tuesday night, but not before letting a 27-point, fourth-quarter lead shrink to three in the closing minutes of a horrid final period.
Forward Tobias Harris scored 19 points for the Magic (11-20). Forward Kyle O’Quinn had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and center Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite snapping a four-game losing streak, the Magic were not celebrating.
“It was tough the way it ended, but we still got the win,” Harris said. “They made a good run at the end, and we got away from the things that made us good early in the game. Some things we need to tighten up.”
The Magic never trailed, leading by as many as 19 points in the first quarter, 25 in the second, 25 in the third and 27 in the fourth.
Yet it turned out to be hardly convincing. The Celtics (10-16) outscored Orlando 35-15 in the fourth quarter as the Magic made just 3 of 15 shots and 8 of 16 free throw attempts.
“It was tough the way it ended,” said Magic guard Victor Oladipo, who made only 2 of 15 shots. “There was some good and some bad out there tonight, but we rode the wave and still came out on top.”
The Celtics were led by center Tyler Zeller’s 22 points and 10 rebounds. He scored nine points during the furious fourth-quarter rally. Guard Avery Bradley scored 20 points in the game.
The Celtics closed to 90-87 when Kelly Olynyk hit a 3-pointer with 2:34 remaining, closing a 27-5 run. They closed to 98-95 when Bradley hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left.
The Magic hung on by making six free throws in the final two minutes.
The Celtics’ fourth-quarter rally was sparked in part by guard Jameer Nelson, forward Jae Crowder and forward Brandan Wright — the three players obtained from Dallas in last week’s trade of Rajon Rondo. Nelson finished with nine points and 11 assists.
“Obviously, in the fourth quarter, they (Magic) got on their heels a little bit,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I thought it was fool’s gold at the end. It’s a lot easier being the team coming back than the team with the lead.”
Bradley broke out of his long-distance shooting slump. He had made only one of his previous 23 3-point shots, but he hit 4 of 6 on Tuesday night.
The Celtics were awful early, missing their first 11 shots and making only 2 of 22 shots in the first quarter as they scored a season-low nine points.
Behind 14 points and six rebounds from Vucevic, the Magic led 53-30 at halftime — their biggest first-half lead this season.
Forward Jared Sullinger missed all five of his shots in the first half as the Celtics shot just 26.3 percent.
Magic reserve guard Ben Gordon made all four of his shots for eight points in eight minutes of the half.
Rookie guard Elfrid Payton, who played poorly on Sunday night, had 10 points and three assists in the third period Tuesday, making sure the Magic stayed in control.
The Magic led 85-60 going into the fourth and were up by as many as 27 points early in the period, but the Celtics quickly cut the deficit with a 12-0 run.
NOTES: G Jameer Nelson made his first start for the Celtics since the trade from Dallas last week. Nelson spent the first 10 seasons of his NBA career with the Magic, leaving as the all-time leader in assists (3,501). He signed with the Mavericks last summer but came to Boston in the multi-player swap for Rajon Rondo. “It’s a bit weird, but I’m here,” Nelson said Tuesday. He received a standing ovation during a break in the first quarter when a video tribute ran on the overhead scoreboard. … Nelson’s arrival means that rookie PG Marcus Smart’s first start Sunday might be his last for a while. … The Magic have played more games (31) than any other team in the league. … Orlando is 7-1 this season when scoring 100 points or more. … Magic rookie F Aaron Gordon (fractured left foot) is out of his walking cast and hopes to be back by the All-Star break.
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