Dwight Howard was in foul trouble again but the Magic have learned to keep their composure in tough situations.
Orlando is in position to earn its first playoff sweep since 1996, a 3-0 whitewashing of the Detroit Pistons. The Magic have never swept a seven-game series in their 21-year history. Game 4 is Monday at 8 p.m.
“Myself and Dwight, we’ve played in a lot of playoff games in our career and we know how to keep our composure now,’’ said Nelson, who tied his career playoff high (32 points) for a second time in this series and the fourth time in his career. “Everything we’ve done in previous years sets you up for situations like this.’’
You can read John Denton’s postgame analysis here.
The Magic just keep overcoming obstacles.
The runaway train carrying the NBA’s worst nightmare continues to build momentum and gain speed. After Saturday’s 90-86 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, Stan the Man and his merry band of Magic outcasts are up 3-0 in this series and are the hottest team in the league.
This is not good news for David Stern and the NBA establishment, who have clearly grown annoyed with Van Gundy’s constant carping about how Howard is treated differently than LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and the league’s other superstars. Before Saturday’s game, the commissioner made it clear he has had it with Van Gundy, who was fined $35,000 earlier this week for criticizing NBA refs.
Mike Bianchi has that story here.
The Magic really didn’t play well, but still earned the win.
The Magic won despite committing 21 turnovers for 31 points. They won with point guard Jameer Nelson, 5-foot-10, taking over the 6-11 Howard’s role as top scorer. They won with power forward Rashard Lewis playing Carter’s role as go-to guy late.
The Magic desperately needed another 32-point effort in the series from Nelson, who led them in scoring only eight times this season. And with Carter in a funk against double-teaming defenders, Lewis —- a 3-point shooter by trade — repeatedly drove to the hoop and made four clutch free throws after being fouled.
Brian Schmitz has that story here.
Marcin Gortat did an excellent job filling in for Dwight Howard, even hitting three clutch free throws.
Under pressure, Magic C Marcin Gortat said he imagined he was back on the club’s practice floor at the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando when he stepped to the free-throw line Saturday.
Gortat was fouled with 12 seconds left after taking an in-bounds pass from J.J. Redick. The Magic led the Charlotte Bobcats 88-86.
“I got to the free-throw line and said, I said to myself, ‘All right. It’s the same thing I do before and after practice (shooting free throws),”‘ said Gortat, who came in after starter Dwight Howard fouled out with three minutes, 32 seconds left.
“I just imagined I was standing with one of my guys from the office (at RDV).”
He made two free throws — his first of the series.
You can find that story here.
The Bobcats blew their chance by taking costly 3-pointers.
Three minutes, 32 seconds remained, they were ahead by a point in the first home playoff game in franchise history and the best defensive player in the NBA could do nothing but sit and clap and watch.
Instead of imposing themselves on the Howard-less Magic, however, the Bobcats continued their three-fest. They scored only six more points, two on a layup by Felton, the other four on free throws.
“I never thought I would coach a team where a third of their shots would be 3s,” coach Larry Brown said.
The Bobcats took 74 field-goal attempts, 23 of them 3s. They shot as many 3s as they did free throws. Only five 3-point attempts went in.
Tom Sorenson has that story here.
The Bobcats blew a golden opportunity.
It seemingly never occurred to the home team that the greatest shot-blocker in the NBA was imprisoned on the bench. Four of the Bobcats’ last six shots were 3-pointers, and all four were misses.
“It was kind of a blur to me,” said Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson of how poorly they performed in a Howard-free zone. “We weren’t getting to the rim and our spacing was terrible. It was like he wasn’t out of the game.”
This was a microcosm of the Bobcats’ season: Brilliant defensively but too often scatterbrained on offense. Twenty-three of their 74 shot attempts were 3-pointers, and as various Bobcats have admitted all season, this is not a team that can rely on jump shots.
Rick Bonnell has that story here.
Larry Brown isn’t getting it done right now.
“I can coach better, which is the first problem,” Brown said late in his news conference. “And then we have to have some guys step up. We’re not good enough to have one or two guys play at a high level.”
They certainly aren’t. Brown has tried everything in this series. He has gone with a three-headed (but toothless) monster at center with Theo Ratliff, Tyson Chandler and Nazr Mohammed. Two of them didn’t get a single rebound Saturday.
Scott Fowler has that story here.
The Magic had no problem without Dwight Howard…sort of.
This seemed to be the Bobcats chance. A raucous crowd witnessing a franchise’s first home playoff game and a chance to upset a heavily favored Magic and get back into the series.
Jameer Nelson had other ideas.
The player Howard affectionately calls a “crib midget” had his way once again with Charlotte’s defense, exploiting one of the few weaknesses the team has defensively. Nelson has found his rhythm and is taking advantage of Raymond Felton at every opportunity. He scored 32 points — 19 in the first quarter — including a tough one-handed runner in the lane with 1:30 left to give Orlando a three-point lead.
Philip Rossman-Reich has that story here.
The Magic got it done down the stretch with Howard.
The real takeaway here is that the Magic got great looks at the basket in each of their 6 possessions between Howard fouling out and Charlotte playing the foul game. Nelson had open men beyond the arc on both of his missed layups, true, but he had open driving lanes. Given how well he’s played in this series, you can forgive him for calling his own number twice there. Early in the third quarter, Bobcats point guard Raymond Felton threw a sloppy pass that Nelson managed to intercept for one of his 4 steals. He had a three-on-two break going, but pulled up from the right side and swished a two-pointer. TNT play-by-play man Matt Devlin called the play by saying, “Nelson says, ‘I’ll do it myself.’” That’s been the story of the series so far. Maybe now he’ll get more recognition for his pick-and-roll skills.
Ben Q. Rock has that story here.
David Arnott of Rufus On Fire knows what a difference Dwight Howard makes.
If we’ve learned anything this series, it’s that the Magic are probably equal to the Cavaliers — when Dwight Howard is in the game. Without Howard, and I’d be surprised if the +/- data didn’t confirm this, they’re essentially equal to the Bobcats, who aren’t pushovers, but have never been title contenders this season. Howard’s just that good, but it’s also a testament to the Magic’s depth that Marcin Gortat can step right in and keep the Magic competitive on the road in front of a frenzied crowd.
You can find that story here.
The Magic are getting it done on both ends.
“They’re beating us. On both ends.”
Those were the words of Stephen Jackson following the Charlotte Bobcats 90-86 loss to the Orlando Magic. Succinct and painful, those words are the truth. No team is going to blowout the other in this series because these defenses are too good, the closest thing you’ll see to a blowout is the Magic’s 15 point win on Wednesday. Even Dwight Howard admits you won’t see high scores in this series, “You’re not going to see a team score 100 points in this series. You’ve got two teams fighting.”
Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops has that story here.
Bobcats Baseline is not happy with Raymond Felton’s play this series.
Raymond Felton. How can I say this diplomatically? Let’s just say his agent won’t be using video of this series in his contract negotiations this summer. And the Bobcats need to keep it in mind when Miami or New York makes an offer that the Bobcats consider matching.
You can find that story here.
Bobcats Planet agrees.
Jameer Nelson is on another level than Raymond Felton. Jameer has punished Ray this series to a tune of 77 points to 36 ( the assists are a wash with 14 apiece through 3 games). We all appreciate what ray has done for the bobcats during this year’s regular season, he is tough as nails, loyal and he plays hurt, but Jameer Nelson seems to have him seriously shook.
You can find that story here.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, a contributor on the Fansided Front Page and at Sir Charles In Charge. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Twitter to follow him daily and you can get the HTD app here).
Topics: 2010 Nba Playoffs, Brandon Bass, Charlotte Bobcats, Defensive Player Of The Year, Dwight Howard, Gerald Wallace, Jameer Nelson, Jason Williams, JJ Redick, Larry Brown, Marcin Gortat, Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus, Orlando Magic, Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Stephen Jackson, Vince Carter