Gordon Hayward showed early just how aggressive he would be as he drove the lane. He provided another reminder late of how dangerous he can be with the ball in his hands.
Hayward hit three free throws with 2:29 left in overtime, and the Boston Celtics beat the Orlando Magic 122-119 on Monday morning for their third straight victory.
“When he’s attacking, we’re better because he just makes a lot of great reads with the ball,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
Hayward finished with 31 points. He also had nine rebounds and five assists, and he was 12-of-18 shooting trying only five 3-pointers. Hayward said he tried to attack a little more in this game.
“I think that our team is at our best when I’m aggressive and attacking,” Hayward said. “It opens the court for everyone else. A lot of times when I’m attacking it doesn’t necessarily end up in me scoring, but it can be a pass or an extra or something else.”
Jayson Tatum scored 29, including the tying basket with 4.2 seconds left in regulation.
Boston came in locked into the No. 3 seed in the East after Toronto’s win over Memphis earlier Sunday. The Celtics now are 4-2 inside the bubble.
The Magic also already had a playoff berth clinched despite losing three straight.
“I just told them in the locker room that it wasn’t the effort I was looking for,” Clifford said. “We made a bunch of shots, but it’s got to be better than that.”
Vucevic led Orlando with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
The Magic led by as much as five twice in the final 5:14 of regulation, the last on a 10-footer by Vucevic with 48 seconds left. Tatum hit a 3-pointer, Daniel Theis blocked a shot by Augustin, then Tatum scored again to tie it at 112.
Tatum blocked a 3 by Ross with 2.1 seconds left, and Hayward missed a long heave that bounced off the backboard to send the game into overtime.
The Magic hit five of their first 10 3s and led by as much as seven in the first quarter before Boston pulled within 29-28 by the end of the quarter. Brown, who was 0-of-3 shooting in the first quarter, scored 11 in the second as the Celtics were ahead 55-51 at halftime after leading by as much as eight.
Boston led 87-86 at the end of the third quarter.