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NBA PLAYOFFS

Orlando shows its heart in 96-92 overtime victory at Boston

It is a win few outside the Magic's locker room believed was coming, trimming Orlando's deficit in the Eastern Conference finals to 3-1. Game 5 is in Orlando on Wednesday night.

May 24, 2010|By K.C. Johnson

Reporting from Boston -- Jeff Van Gundy is the brother of Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy and one of the wittiest voices in the NBA.

But broadcasting trumped brotherhood during the Boston Celtics' Game 3 dismantling of the Magic, prompting Jeff to humorously wonder why Monday's Game 4 should even be played given Orlando's woeful effort on Saturday.

Here's why: Magic 96, Celtics 92.

In overtime. On the road.

Anyone questioning the Magic's heart now?

"If you don't think you can win the series, then it's just too easy to let go," Stan Van Gundy said. "Our guys played hard. We got into the fight."

The Magic responded with a victory few outside its locker room believed was coming, trimming the deficit in these Eastern Conference finals to 3-1. Game 5 is in Orlando on Wednesday night.

Neither team scored in overtime until Jameer Nelson banked home the first of consecutive three-point shots with 2:40 left. Nelson, who had 23 points, swished his second 41 seconds later.

"He's got a lot of guts," Stan Van Gundy said.

But the Magic inexplicably left Ray Allen to double-team Glen Davis, and Allen buried a huge three-pointer with 1:46 left.

Dwight Howard, huge with 32 points and 16 rebounds, responded with a second-effort hoop while being fouled after Davis blocked his initial attempt. But he missed the ensuing free throw, and Allen, who scored 22, snuck free for another three-pointer with 1:13 left.

Howard followed Nelson's miss with 52.7 seconds left for a 96-92 Magic lead. Both teams turned it over, but Paul Pierce missed back-to-back three-pointers on the same possession from the top of the key to seal matters.

Still, all previous 93 teams that grabbed a 3-0 playoff lead have won the series.

"We executed poorly throughout the game," Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said. "We didn't play well. They had far more energy. They jumped on us to start the game. They got all the loose balls and made all the extra plays."

In regulation, the Magic took a 79-76 lead on Nelson's three-pointer with 4:30 remaining and built the lead to 85-78 when Howard dunked home Nelson's lob and got fouled, converting the three-point play with 2:24 left.

But Pierce, who had 32 points, dunked and Allen sank a three-pointer around a Howard miss to pull the Celtics within 85-83. After Nelson split two free throws, Pierce converted a three-point play with 1:16 left to tie the score.

The teams failed to score on the final four possessions of regulation, with Pierce fumbling the Celtics' final possession away at the buzzer.

Earlier, the Magic got the better start it sought after that disastrous Game 3 loss, leading by eight in the first quarter. Matt Barnes hit two three-pointers early. Even Rashard Lewis, whose jumper has been as accurate as some LeBron James rumors, sank his first shot and a three-pointer just before the first-quarter buzzer.

The game became chippy in the third. Kevin Garnett drew a technical foul for retaliating to a Howard elbow to the face, which went uncalled. This seemed to ignite the Celtics, who swarmed Vince Carter into a turnover that led to a Allen fast-break dunk.

But J.J. Redick, whose 12 points featured three three-pointers, came up big in the fourth to offset a woeful night from Carter, who missed eight of nine shots.

"Now we're going home with some confidence that you can win and certainly an understanding of how hard you have to play and fight," Stan Van Gundy said.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

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