When Nelson’s heave from 30 feet fell short at the buzzer, the Magic were forced to stomach the first two-game losing streak at Amway Arena all season and stare down some daunting odds.
Only three times in playoff history has a team lost the first two games at home and rallied to advance. The most recent case of that happening was 2005 when Dallas battled back to beat the Houston Rockets in seven games.
John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com has that story here.
Perkins, Rasheed Wallace, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Kevin Garnett.
Howard had a little something, something for each and every one of them.
At one point, it looked that it may be enough when Vince Carter hit a jumper to give the Magic a 90-89 lead with 3:35 left.
But their shots failed them in the end. Carter missed two free throws that would have cut the lead to one, and a desperation heave by Jameer Nelson looked to be on line but fell short.
George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel has that story here.
How can this be? How can the hottest team in the league during the last half of the season — a team that had won 14 in a row and swept through the first two rounds of the playoffs — now be gasping for survival? How can the Magic, who have not lost two straight home games all season long, lose the first two home games of the Eastern Conference finals? How can everything the Magic have talked about and worked for be circling one of the clogged-up drains in one of the musty bathrooms at Amway Arena?
Sadly, the way the Magic are playing, this might go down as the last game in the history of the 21-year-old Am What a shame that would be. It would be sort of like the last song the Beatles ever played as a band being “Octopus’s Garden.” Granted, Amway Arena doesn’t have the history and tradition of the old Boston Garden, but it still deserves a better goodbye than this.
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel has that story here.
Paul Pierce was a problem for the Magic from the start, with Carter unable to corral him. Fouled by Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, Pierce made both free throws to put the Magic down 95-92 with 34.7 seconds left.
Carter, brought to Orlando to be the go-to guy, drove in and was fouled by Pierce, who fouled out.
But Carter, who has a home in Isleworth and welcomed the summer trade from New Jersey for a title shot, badly missed two free throws. The Celtics tried to run as much clock as possible, but Kevin Garnett missed a jumper. J.J. Redick had the ball with seven seconds left, but had trouble getting the time-out, much to coach Stan Van Gundy’s displeasure.
“We didn’t make the right play at the end,” Van Gundy said.
Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel has that story here.
“I’m not encouraged by anything,” said Magic guard J.J. Redick, who scored a career-high 16 points. “The bottom line is wins and losses. We have until Saturday to figure out how to get a win, and we need to go out and execute a lot better.”
If there’s any silver lining for Orlando, it’s that the Magic beat the C’s twice at the Garden during the regular season.
“This year, to me, they were a better team on the road, and hopefully it can be that way for the playoffs,” Lewis said. “We’ve beaten them on their floor before, and now we have to do it.”
Zach McCann of the Boston Herald has that story here.
Rob Mahoney knows one adjustment the Magic can make.
Imagine that you had just come to this planet from another world before the playoffs began. You have come on a mission to observe human culture, specifically, sporting events, specifically, professional basketball. You have no frame of reference for the past 10 years, you don’t know about championship rings, 81 point games, 49 point triple doubles, MVPs, or a history of game winning shots (God knows there are none in these playoffs to teach you). You have an understanding of the game through what you’ve learned in research.
Who is the best player in the NBA under those circumstances?
It’s Rajon Rondo.
Matt Moore of Pro Basketball Talk has that story here.
The Celtics have won five straight games against the East’s two regular-season heavyweights — Boston’s first five-game winning streak in more than half a year — and as a result has one foot in the NBA Finals and is six wins away from claiming a second championship in three years.
So … did they just turn it on for the playoffs?
“I know it’s starting to look that way,” said Paul Pierce, who scored a team-high 28 points and shook off a second-quarter chop to the face from Dwight Howard that resulted in a flagrant foul.
John Hollinger of ESPN.com has that story here.
Sitting in a near-silent Amway Arena yesterday morning, Paul Pierce [stats] spoke about one of his favorite things – hearing once raucous fans in opposing arenas grow silent and then slink away after the final buzzer.
Last night, he made that a stunning reality.
“See you next year,” Pierce snarled in the direction of several sad-faced Orlando fans as he walked off the Amway floor following a 95-92 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. That left the Magic down 0-2 and in need of Houdini to escape the vise the Celtics [team stats] now have them in.
Ron Borges has that story here.
Minutes before Game 2, a fan sent a text to “MagicVision” on the Amway Arena Jumbotron. The text read: “Dwight you need to dominate!!!” Dwight Howard did just that.
And it didn’t matter.
The Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic 95-92 Tuesday night in Orlando, taking a decisive 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics won in spite of Howard’s 30 points and 8 rebounds and despite Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins fouling out of the game. Boston’s offensive execution in the fourth quarter, as well as some poor time management by the Magic, tilted the game in favor of the Celtics.
Gary Dzen of the Boston Globe has that story here.
So how do you explain the update that went up on Pierce’s Twitter account minutes later, at 12:19 Wednesday morning,
that said the following?
“Anybody got a BROOM?”
Them’s fighting words. And after a few more minutes had passed, the fight was indeed on — verbally, through the media, using ominous but somewhat cryptic language.
“Pride comes before the fall,” Howard answered back. “Just know that. They only won two games. They can write what they want,
but know we’re going to stay humble and stay focused.”
Humility is key at this juncture. The Celtics have a nice series lead over the Magic in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference final, but this is still a team with the best regular-season record of anyone left, and a team that was hotter than anyone entering this series.
You’d be hard-pressed to find evidence that the Magic are done.
Evans Clinchy of NESN.com has that story here.
In an ultra-physical Game 2, the Celtics endured every haymaker Howard and Co. offered, and bounced back with two of their own. The Magic tried desperately to even this series with a late rally, and the Boston team of a month ago would have crumbled under the adversity.
Not now. These Celtics have put together five consecutive postseason wins and are headed back to Boston with a commanding 2-0 series advantage.
Also packed on their carry-on: an undeniable confidence.
Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com 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