Vince Carter was brought in for these kind of situations. He failed the first time with his team down one a few possessions earlier when Rasheed Wallace blocked his shot leading to Rajon Rondo’s runner to put Boston up three. After JJ Redick made a long 3-pointer to tie the game and Orlando got a stop on the other end, Carter had his chance for redemption.
Redick could not get it to the Magic’s new “star” with the Celtics defense blanketing Carter and he instead found Rashard Lewis in the corner. Lewis pump faked and found a clear path to the rim where his layup with 1.3 seconds was enough for the Magic a come-from-behind 96-94 win at Amway Arena on Thursday.
And I know what you are thinking at this point: Rashard Lewis driving to the hole? Redick hitting a game-tying 3-pointer?
Just wait, it gets better. Not only did Dwight Howard dominate Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett and anybody else Boston sent at him in the fourth quarter — 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and a variety of offensive moves to go with 10 rebounds and four blocks — but he did that with Marcin Gortat playing alongside him for the entire fourth quarter.
Wait, it gets better.
Orlando, ranked 24th in the league in offensive rebounds, grabbed 17 offensive boards helping the team erase a 16-point deficit. This on a night when the team was not shooting particularly well from anywhere, Ray Allen found a nice rhythm in the second quarter.
The sight of Lewis driving to the basket was also not a surprise. At least not on this night. Lewis helped the Magic erase that double digit deficit by being chased off the 3-point line and attacking the glass. He showed his versatility tonight and why Orlando lavished him with that (ahem) contract he got three years ago. Lewis scored at team-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, making on two of three 3-point attempts. That is right, he took more two-point attempts than three-point attempts.
It was a strange night indeed. Now if only we could get Vince Carter (six point, 2-for-13 shooting) to round into form. There is no such thing as an ugly win, right?
For a long time this one looked like it would mimic the Christmas Day masterpiece. Orlando could not buy a basket and was shooting in the 30 percent figure again. Boston got out to an early lead and even though it looked like Howard would not let Boston’s defense bother him, he picked up two quick fouls and gave way to Marcin Gortat.
Jameer Nelson had a 10-0 run on his own to keep the Magic close, but the offense stagnated with lots of one-on-one action and not a lot of good ball movement. The Celtics defense smothered anything the Magic tried to do. That is why Orlando had one assist at halftime, seven turnovers in the first quarter (10 by halftime) and trailed 51-40 at the half.
It would have been closer had Ray Allen not caught fire late in the second quarter, but even with the offense struggling the Magic kept it as close as they could.
But I think everyone knew Orlando would not shoot 1 for 10 from long range with the looks it was getting for the whole night. With Howard, Matt Barnes, Marcin Gortat and Rashard Lewis scrapping for offensive rebounds and keeping possession throughout the second half, the Magic slowly and methodically worked their way back.
Jason Williams hit a couple of transition threes and Lewis went on a nine-point scoring run of his own to get Orlando within striking distance entering the fourth quarter. Lewis had eight rebounds in addition to his high scoring night, aggressively taking the ball off the dribble to get to the basket for lay ups or short jumpers.
This was a strange night.
When Stan Van Gundy sent Howard and Gortat on the floor together to match up with Kendrick Perkins/Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett, it may have looked like a somewhat desperate move to try and keep Orlando in the game after falling behind by 16 in the third quarter and cutting it to 72-61 to start the fourth quarter.
But the move worked out brilliantly. With Gortat backing up Howard or the other way around, the two worked well together defensively. Howard had four blocks, but Gortat also did a number on the glass with three blocks and eight rebounds. On one possession Gortat tipped a Glen Davis drive as the ball left his hand and then Howard pinned the shot on the glass for the rebound.
Surprisingly, the duo worked well on offense too. Howard got deep post position as he was determined to show he could beat the Celtics’ defensive scheme against him. Gortat got out of the way and hit a nice bank shot off a pick and roll that told Boston that Orlando was in the game to stay and had a very good chance to win it.
It will be interesting to see how Van Gundy uses the duo in upcoming games. He used it the entire fourth quarter and it was very effective in a very big game that helped Orlando earn at least a split with rival Boston for the season series.
The second half was how everyone would expect Orlando to play. Suffocating defense (43 points second-half points allowed), efficient offense (56 second-half points for Orlando) and a deadly inside-outside game. Everything clicked in the second half as the Magic overcame the Celtics lead and netted a huge victory.