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Orlando Magic News & Notes: Magic Stay Alive


The Orlando Magic defeated the Boston Celtics 96-92 in overtime on Monday night to force a Game 5, which will be played Wednesday night in Orlando.

"And because the Magic dove for loose balls, fought for rebounds, attacked relentlessly on both ends of the floor and even worked a bit of overtime, they still have life today in these Eastern Conference Finals.There will be at least one more game at the 21-year-old Amway Arena because the Magic played with great desperation and efficiency in a 96-92 overtime defeat of the Celtics at Boston’s TD Garden.And because they got dazzling, gutsy performances from team captains Dwight Howard (32 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks) and Jameer Nelson (23 points and nine assists), the Magic still have a pounding heartbeat at 3-1 in the series. Game 5 is Wednesday night and the Magic are hoping that with a win in Amway Arena that they can shift pressure back to the Celtics."

You can read John Denton’s postgame analysis here.

Orlando’s captains, Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, led the way.

"Howard scored 32 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a monster performance and Nelson was a constant spark with 23 points and nine assists.The Magic survived Paul Pierce (32 points) and Allen (22) and also overcame a forgettable game by Vince Carter (1-of-9, three points).With the score 86-86, Nelson tossed up what looked like a wild shot — even Carter said he was getting under the basket ready to grab the rebound. But it somehow banked in.“It was on my radar,” Nelson said, laughing. “I did call ‘bank.’ I misjudged where I was at.”Added Howard, “I don’t know too many people who hit bank-shot 3s in overtime. … It was all confidence after that.”"

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel has that story here.

George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel says Howard has his Superman cape on Monday.

"It seems very clear now that Howard won’t go down without a feisty fight. He had a much more meaningful presence on Monday night after his 7-point, 7-rebound deal on Saturday.“I think his will was very, very strong tonight,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.Howard was back in business with his “crib midget” buddy, Jameer Nelson, who pushed the ball up the court to give Howard and the Magic much better looks at the basket. On one first-half possession, Nelson got the ball to the frontcourt in three seconds, setting up a dunk by Howard."

You can read that story here.

Diaz also discusses how Hakeem Olajuwon reached out to Howard before the game.

"Hakeem Olajuwon, the former great with the Houston Rockets, talked to Dwight to offer words of inspiration.“Me and him had a great talk,” Howard said. “He just inspired me to keep playing.“So I didn’t want to give up, because I just felt like there was a lot of people pulling for us to keep going. That was it.”"

You can read that story here.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel compared Jameer Nelson’s Game 4 performance to the performances of one of the league’s elite Point Guards.

"Facing elimination from the Eastern Conference finals, Jameer Nelson gave his team’s ailing offense a desperately needed boost Monday night. The diminutive point guard knifed through the lane like Steve Nash, dished to open teammates and hit two critical 3-pointers in overtime as the Magic beat the Celtics 96-92.Nelson finished with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting. He also dished out nine assists.“He created the vast majority of our offense tonight,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. So we put a lot on his shoulders. He responded extremely well.”"

You can read that story here.

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel tells the Celtics to put away the brooms.

"Now it’s the Magic who are talking about rising up and trying to overthrow that Celtic royalty and legacy. The Magic have always said they wanted to make history this season. Well now they REALLY have a chance to make history. If they want to win the first championship in franchise history, first they will have to pull off the greatest comeback in NBA history.The victory in Game 4 is at least a start. Now the Magic come home Wednesday night and will be expected to win Game 5, too. If that happens, suddenly it’s 3-2 and the pressure will be back on the Celtics going back to Boston on Friday night for Game 6. And what if the Magic can get it back to Orlando for a Game 7 Sunday? Then they would have all the momentum and undoubtedly be favored to win."

You can read that story here.

Matt Barnes is upset with his minutes but still wants to stay with the Magic.

"Barnes can opt out of the two-year deal he signed last summer, but said, “I want to come back.”He played just 16 minutes in the Magic’s Game 3 debacle against the Boston Celtics, cheering — and stewing — on the bench. He said he isn’t worried about not being able to display his skills during the series in a contract year.“I want to be out there to help my team. The money thing is whatever,” he said. “More than anything, I just hate to watch from the bench, especially when we’re not playing hard and that’s what I bring to the court.“I’ve just been cheering. I hate it, hate it. It’s tough to watch.”Barnes is one of five Magic players who can become free agents this summer, along with shooting guard J.J. Redick, point guard Jason Williams, point guard Anthony Johnson and center Adonal Foyle."

You can read that story here.

Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post discussed some of the good things Orlando did on offense.

"The Magic’s offense, which has struggled mightily in this series, finally got on track tonight thanks to a worthwhile adjustment from coach Stan Van Gundy. As his brother Jeff, an ESPN analyst, pointed out during the telecast, Orlando sent staggered screens Nelson’s way, which added another dimension to its offense. An initial screen from power forward Rashard Lewis on the wing would start the play, and then Howard would come over to set another screen for Nelson between the wing and the baseline. The small forward, either Carter, Mickael Pietrus, or Matt Barnes, would slide along the baseline from the strong side to the weak side to take away a help defender. Nelson could drive to the basket for a layup or dump the ball to Howard on the roll. Another option, one which worked well tonight, was to keep the dribble alive and pull the ball back out to the initial weak side. If Boston’s defense blinked for even a second, Howard was open for a delayed lob. It’s a gorgeous set that worked well against Boston’s elite defense. Rest assured that Celtics coach Doc Rivers, and defensive assistant Tom Thibodeau, will watch plenty of film of those plays to figure ways to adjust, while Van Gundy can add another wrinkle or two."

You can read that story here.

Phillip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily loved Orlando’s effort.

"It helped the Magic started making their 3-pointers early. Barnes hit some threes early, Rashard Lewis got into a good rhythm early and JJ Redick continued his great series with another fantastic effort.Boston was slow to match Orlando’s effort. But the Celtics came on strong after giving up 31 points in the first quarter, winning their first opening quarter of the series. The Magic’s defense was a little slow and still a step behind, allowing the Celtics to hang around."

You can read that story here.

The Magic are heading in the right direction.

"And now, the question for Orlando is whether this was the first step toward history. We’ve seen teams in other sports erase three-game deficits in seven-game series—as folks in Boston know well. The Red Sox did just that to the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series, and just this year, the Flyers roared back from 3-0 down against the Bruins. If there is a little more apprehension in Boston, it’s understandable.Still, the Magic are facing a whole lot of history, and even in making this some semblance of a series again with the Game 4 win, Orlando did not exactly deliver a knockout blow to the Celtics. Boston, too, played well and had the opportunity to win the game in regulation. The Magic smothered a Paul Pierce possession with the game tied, a play that coach Doc Rivers said “we just did not execute.”"

Sean Deveney of The Baseline has that story here.

Matt Moore of Pro Basketball Talk says Monday was the first we’ve seen of the Magic in this series.

"It was the first time all series that the Orlando Magic that had so competently destroyed teams in the second half of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs made an appearance. Knocking down threes, playing tremendous defense by contesting every shot and closing lanes, creating open looks with multiple rotations off the pick and roll, and competing at an NBA championship-worthy level. Oh, yeah, and Dwight Howard did his thing.The Big Freak was dominant, pouring in 32 points to go along with 16 rebounds, and the two were connected. 5 of Howard’s boards were offensive, and in overtime, he simply was too much for the drunken seal, Glen Davis, to stop. This after Glen Davis played a fine game, even nailing an 18 footer to get the Celtics back within one possession late in the third."

You can read that story here.

John Hollinger of thinks the Magic pointed out some of Boston’s flaws.

"There’s no guarantee any of the factors from Monday’s game hold up for Game 5 in Orlando on Wednesday, but there’s another one that may trip up Boston too. The Celtics were looking at having as many as nine days off before the Finals started if they had won tonight. Now, there’s a strong chance they’ll need until Game 6 on Friday, which would leave them only five days of rest — and add two more games of wear and tear — before the Finals.That’s still plenty of rest, of course, but the Celtic’s maladies are mounting. The right-handed Perkins’ already limited offensive repertoire has been further constrained by a sprained right wrist (not to mention shoulder and knee problems). He now appears unwilling to shoot the same 15-foot jumper that he stroked easily on the first play of Game 1 in Orlando."

You can read that story here.

The Celtics ran out of gas in overtime.

"Even before back-to-back treys from Orlando guard Jameer Nelson broke the game open in overtime, they Celtics had a chance to take the game and the series at the very end of regulation. But on a night when the Celtics were gouged by too many possessions that ran deep into the shot clock, Pierce was left scrambling to retain possession of the ball against a triple team as time expired.The botched execution on this play said a lot about the state of execution last night for the Celtics.As has often happened this season, when the Celtics break down on offense, everyone wanted the honor of putting the Magic to rest for the year.None succeeded."

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald has that story here.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and on Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).