Magic Force Game 5 in Orlando
The Magic avoided an embarrassing sweep in the Eastern Conference final, beating the Celtics, 96-92, Monday night in overtime to force a Game 5 in Orlando on Wednesday.
The Magic used a pair of 3-pointers by Jameer Nelson to open the scoring in overtime, then held on with two dunks by Dwight Howard to beat the Celtics in Game 4.
The game went into overtime when each team missed a chance to score in the final seconds over regulation. Jameer Nelson missed a shot at one end, then Paul Pierce mishandled the ball at the other.
Hero of the Day
Dwight Howard, who was widely criticized for a lackluster performance in Game 3, came up big in Game 4 with 32 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots, including a key one in overtime. Howard still struggled at the free throw line, but it didn't matter when he scored quickly before he could be fouled.
The game was tight throughout -- and no one scored in the first 2:20 of overtime -- but Nelson turned the game in Orlando's favor with a lucky, off-the-glass, 3-pointer. He followed with another long one on the next Magic possession to give them a six-point lead. The Celtics got a pair of 3's from Ray Allen, but they never led in overtime.
Key Coaching Decision
Celtics coach Doc Rivers decided against calling a timeout when his team rebounded the ball in the final 10 seconds of regulation, letting his veterans move the ball up court. Those veterans, though, looked disorganized when Paul Pierce dribbled the ball away, letting it go into overtime.
Outside the Box
Magic reserve J.J. Redick carried the scoring load late in the third and early in the fourth with Dwight Howard on the bench in foul trouble. Redick scored 10 consecutive Magic points to keep them close. Redick finished with 12 points.
You Had to Be There
During the Monday morning workout at the Garden, Magic players were quieter and more serious than they had been before the three previous games. They clearly were embarrassed by their performance in Game 3, and they returned to the Garden that night with a quiet resolve. It was no surprise they started the game with more energy and intensity, leading for more minutes in the first period than they had led in the three previous games combined.