The Magic showed toughness and resolve in their Christmas win over the Boston Celtics.
When the Magic finally snapped out of an offensive funk on Saturday and delivered a game-closing 15-1 knockout punch, the Magic had a tough and gritty victory that seemed to indicate they had learned a thing or two since last spring’s Eastern Conference Finals.
“I told the guys at the beginning season that we have to be tough, nit just physically, but also mentally, especially against teams like Boston who will come at us from all kinds of angles and try to punk us,’’ Howard said after Orlando’s 86-78 Christmas Day whipping of the Celtics. “Coach just reminded us that when things get going tough for us that we have to fight it out. I just kept trying to talk to my teammates and I told them this is our game. I really like what I saw out of guys. We didn’t allow the frustration build to the point where we give up. This reminds me of the team (from 2009) where we’d be down in the fourth, we’d keep fighting and we’d get the win.’’
John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com shares his postgame analysis here.
Brandon Bass says the Magic showed their character.
Bass stepped up after Van Gundy dared him at halftime to be more aggressive against Kevin Garnett. Bass contributed a team-high 21 points, including a jumper from just inside the foul line that tied the score at 77 with 1:56 left.
“The last two weeks, things have been tough for us, and we struggled,” Bass said. “Tonight, I think it showed our character and shows that we are headed in the right direction.”
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has that story here.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated says the Magic have to play like title contenders to keep Dwight Howard.
Celtics Hub called Boston’s offense “offensive” Saturday afternoon.
Brandon Bass has been huge for the Magic and he may have had his finest game Saturday considering the circumstances.
“This year, his role has gotten bigger,” Nelson said of Bass. “It’s going well for him right now. He’s a hard worker and I’m happy for him.” Bass and Nelson are close friends, Nelson said. “I’m pretty close with him.”
Indeed, things are going well for Bass. He’s reached double-figure scoring in seven of Orlando’s last eight games, averaging 13.3 points per game in that stretch and 11.3 on the season as a whole.
Though Bass finished strong against Boston, he got off to a rough start, which earned him a stern talking-to from Van Gundy at halftime. “You don’t want to know what Stan said,” Magic guard Gilbert Arenas said with a chuckle. Once the laughter subsided, Arenas said, “But he went out there and he took the challenge,” explaining that Van Gundy wanted Bass to “challenge” Garnett at the offensive end more aggressively.
Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post has that story here.
Bass childhood friend, Glenn “Big Baby” Davis says the Magic can’t beat the Celtics in a seven game series.
“They can’t beat us,” he said. “They can’t. With Shaq in the game. We just have too many guys.
“They came out and played better than us today, but if you are talking about a seven-game series. I don’t think they can beat us.
You can read that story here.
Watch “Tito Jackson” give a postgame interview after Saturday’s game.
Dan Savage and Josh Cohen of OrlandoMagic.com go “Around the Amway.”
Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel wonders if this is the end for Jason Williams.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days (1420sports.com) and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).