Magic Rally From 16 Down to Beat Celtics


The Orlando Magic fell behind by 16 points, shot the ball poorly and saw their opponent, the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics (who were completely healthy) hit 12 three-pointers. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well, the Magic came from behind, putting up 35 fourth quarter points to win 96-94. Rashard Lewis finished with 23 points and hit the game-winning layup with 1.3 seconds to play. Ray Allen had 20 points to lead the Celtics.

Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy discussed the victory.

"“Obviously a great fourth quarter and a great game and a tremendous win for us. Didn’t look good for large parts of the game but we just hung around close enough and then made some plays, some incredibly big shots, got some stops. Just a very tough game, but a great one. “"

The Magic played a very sloppy first quarter and quickly fell behind 11-3. Jameer Nelson scored the next 10 Magic points, cutting the lead to 16-13. Both Dwight Howard and Kendrick Perkins picked up two early fouls on ticky-tack calls and were forced to the bench. Orlando had seven turnovers that led to nine Cetlics points. Boston shot 12-of-20 from the period in the period. The Magic were just 6-of-16. The most memorable moment of the period came when Paul Pierce intentionally fouled Dwight Howard and then got in the face of Matt Barnes. Both Barnes and Pierce were issued technical fouls. Boston got 10 points from Rasheed Wallace off of the bench, but Wallace was also called for a technical when he screamed after making a basket. Nelson’s 10 points led the Magic.

The Magic picked up their defense in the second quarter but they shot the ball even more poorly in the second period (6-of-20) than they did in the first. Dwight Howard picked up his fourth foul less than four minutes into the quarter. Orlando fixed their turnover problem (they had just 3 second half turnovers), but they couldn’t manage to make shots. Orlando did not record a single assist in the second period and had just one total assist in the first half, which was a franchise low. Due to his foul trouble, Dwight Howard played just 8:03 in the first half and attempted just three shots, making two. Orlando put together a 7-0 to cut Boston’s lead to 42-36 midway through the quarter. Orlando had plenty of chances to cut the lead even smaller but squandered some opportunities. They held Boston scoreless from the 8:06 mark to the 2:39 mark, but Boston went on a 9-2 run and went into halftime with a 51-40 lead.

The third quarter was back and forth full of runs. Boston opened the quarter on a 7-1 run and built their largest lead of the game at 58-42. It looked the Magic were on the verge of being blown out but once again, they responded with a 7-0 run. Boston then went on 8-2 run and ran the score back up to 66-51 before Rashard Lewis scored 7 straight points. The quarter ended with the Celtics leading 72-61.

Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy made an interesting decision to play Marcin Gortat at Power Forward in the final period. And it worked. Behind a lineup of Howard at Center, Gortat at Power Forward Matt Barnes and Rashard Lewis at Small Forward, and J.J. Redick and Jason Williams in the backcourt, the Magic got back in the game. After Eddie House opened the period with a 3-pointer, the Magic scored the next 9 points and cut the lead to 5. Rondo made a layup to send it back to 7, it looked like the Celtics would answer Orlando’s run with one of their own again, but this time the Magic stayed with the Celtics. Marcin Gortat threw an alley-oop to Dwight Howard to cut the lead back to 5 and bring the crowd at Amway to their feet. The Magic finally took the lead with 4:12 remaining when J.J. Redick hit three free throws. The teams exchanged baskets until Paul Pierce’s three-pointer with 1:27 to go gave Boston a 92-91 lead. Vince Carter was inserted into the lineup and promptly turned the ball over, allowing Boston to extend the lead to three. That’s when J.J. Redick channeled his Duke days and hit a long three-pointer that tied the game.

Former Magic Head Coach and current Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers was very upset with the play.

"“The three, the one thing we said out of the timeout, we don’t care if they get a dunk, a wide open dunk, one thing we don’t want to do is give up three. Don’t back off. We stopped the first option and there really wasn’t a second option. J.J. Redick, we backed off of him. I don’t know if you should back of J.J. Redick, he’s a pretty good shooter.”"

Ray Allen missed a three-pointer and the Magic had a chance to win on the last shot. J.J. Redick had a difficult time getting the ball to Vince Carter and eventually Rashard Lewis got the ball and dribbled it into the corner. Lewis then blew by Kevin Garnett and got a layup giving the Magic the lead. Rasheed Wallace air-balled a three-pointer at the buzzer. After the game, Van Gundy talked about Lewis’ layup

"“Well Rashard saved me because we couldn’t get Vince the ball, it was a poorly designed play and Rashard bailed my butt out.”"


After the game, Rashard Lewis said that the win “started with defense.” He was right. After allowing the Celtics to shoot 60% in the first quarter and score 34 points, they gave up just 60 points on 23-pf-54 shooting the rest of the night. Orlando forced 14 Celtics turnovers and blocked 7 Celtics shots. Howard dominated the inside, allowing the Celtics to shoot just 8-of-20 in the paint. Usually, this is almost completely due to the defense of Howard and although Howard did his job on the defensive end, blocking four shots and altering several others, credit must also be given to Marcin Gortat, who blocked three shots himself.

Dwight Howard was ineffective in the first half because of foul trouble, but he played every second of the second half. He really stepped up in the fourth quarter. He was 5-of-6 from the field in the period and scored 11 points. Boston’s choice not to double team Howard and leave him one-on-one with Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace is usually a wise twice, but Howard made them pay tonight. At one point with Perkins guarding him, Howard made three consecutive hook shots. On one possession, Howard had the ball about 10 feet away from the basket and had to put it on the floor. Usually, he turns the ball over in that situation, but this time, he backed Kevin Garnett down and got an easy dunk. Howard was his usual dominating self on defense. He finished the game with 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

It looks like Rashard Lewis is finding his stride. He was excellent, but much like Howard, it took him a while to get going. Lewis had just 7 points on 1-of-5 shooting in the first half. Lewis shot 7-of-8 in the second half and scored 16 points, including the game-winning bucket. Lewis put the ball on the floor more and attempted just three three-pointers, hitting two.

Credit should also be given to the second unit’s backcourt. J.J. Redick hit three big free throws to give Orlando their first lead and his three-pointer tied the game at 94. Redick, as he always does, worked hard on both ends of the floor. He shot just 2-of-7 but finished with 11 points and scored when it counted. Jason Williams scored 8 points and had 2 assists. The numbers don’t seem great, but the offense just had a better flow with him in the game.

Marcin Gortat’s performance should not be forgotten. He only took one shot and finished with six points, but he had eight rebounds, blocked three shots and played very good defense against Boston’s bigs. Gortat also stayed out of Dwight Howard’s way and allowed him to get going in the fourth quarter. Gortat did manage to hit a jump-shot and dish out his first ally-oop to none other than Dwight Howard.

Game Notes:

  • You just can’t sugarcoat it – Vince Carter was bad. He shot 2-of-13, scored only 6 points and had a key turnover. He played only 1:08 in the fourth quarter.
  • You had to love Matt Barnes not backing down from Paul Pierce – Dwight Howard said that he did. Barnes is showing that toughness that Orlando has lacked.
  • Orlando dominated the boards, grabbing 47 rebounds including 17 offensive rebounds (!) to Boston’s 32.
  • This helped Orlando score 26 second chance points to Boston’s 9.
  • Rasheed Wallace and Ray Allen played very well at times, but the Magic held Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to 18 points on 5-of-20 shooting.

Expect much more on this game.

Next Up: The Magic will host the Atlanta Hawks Saturday night.

Final Thought: The Magic wouldn’t classify this as a statement win, but this had to be the most important victory since the playoffs. Because they really earned it. Just ask Doc Rivers.

"“I thought Orlando deserved to win because they never quit. They kept coming and they kept fighting and I think when that happens you should win the game.”"

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)