The fight that everyone was waiting for finally came through on Wednesday night at the Amway Arena.
The Orlando Magic showed how much they really wanted to win by playing a hard defensive game and earning a victory of 113-92 against the Boston Celtics.
It wasn’t just a win. It was a beat down, old school style.
It all came down to two simple key factors, Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. Finally the Magic broke out of their not so lucky slump, making 13 of 25 three-point shots to close Game 5 and take the series back to Boston.
Not only the Magic showed energy but also intensity. Both Glen Davis and Marquis Daniels on the Celtics side left the court with a concussion and the possibility of not playing Game 6.
The biggest win for the Magic though was Kendrick Perkins foul trouble. After their starting center picked up his seventh technical foul of the playoffs, a mandatory suspension was delivered and unless it is overturned, he will be out for game 6 and the Celtics will have to find somebody else to block superman.
Tip off has the Magic in possession of the ball but a block by the Celtics has them scrambling back to the defense line. Right off the bat, the Celtics are bringing more aggression to the game. Three deflects and Ray Allen scores the first three points of the game.
Vince Carter then retaliates by hitting a three from behind the line followed by another three delivered by Lewis, who has been MIA this series. After Kevin Garnett tries for an offensive foul, Howard finds himself staring at one spot only, the basket and a dunk. 8-8.
The fight for the lead continues on both sides. The execution is flawless and by the end of the first quarter the shooting percentage of 55% and 53% leaves nothing to be desired.
The Celtics on the other hand, had something to think about, both Garnett and Davis had already picked up two fouls.
—It’s a three point show.
Second quarter has Howard delivering a block and assisting Pietrus with his jump shot to land the Magic another three points. Wallace is not happy, and sinks a three and a two for the Celtics. He is now 2/2 off the bench but at the same time he picks up two fouls leaving Doc Rivers steaming on the sidelines.
After a fight on the rebound at 9 minutes left, Rasheed Wallace and J.J. Redick both shoot threes, bringing the score 40-33 with the Magic leading.
The crowd screams “defense” and it seems to faze Boston who loses the ball and has Wallace picking up his third foul of the game. It’s time to retire and he’s off to the bench.
Things got even worse for the Celtics when Perkins was ejected after he picked up his second technical of the game and seventh of the postseason for arguing with officials.
By the end of the quarter, the Magic had their largest lead of the series: 14 points.
—All hell broke loose.
Third quarter starts and the Magic lead 60-53. A pass from Nelson and Howard does the job, a hard dunk that has Magic fans standing up and cheering.
The Celtics don’t give up and Rajon Rondo gets aggressive on the attack. He scores two lay ups and 4 points for the Celtics after the Magic ges another turnover.
Nelson on the drive scores with a hook, two more for the Magic. A hustle between Howard and Paul Pierce in the paint leaves Pierce on the floor. This is just the beginning of what seemed to become a string on injuries for Boston.
Williams comes up with the steal and goes all the way to the paint and scores. Orlando was rolling with 1:37 left on the third quarter.
—-Then the scare happened.
With 27sec left in the quarter, “big baby” Davis is guarding Howard as he spins to dunk. Howard elbows Davis in the face. Davis tries to get up but was so disoriented that he stumbled into the arms of referee Joey Crawford. The crowd and players were stunned. Davis, with a concussion is out of the game.
Fourth quarter has Lewis banking in the first few seconds and scoring on a hook. Finally we saw some action from Rashard Lewis who has been struggling for most of the series. 87-78 for the Magic.
Nate Robinson fires a three and scores for the Celtics but Pierce gets aggressive and picks up his third foul. The Celtics are now having a problem with their biggest players getting close to foul trouble.
At 10:34 Daniels gets physical with Howard in the paint and gets knocked down. He can’t walk and is taken out with the second concussion of the game.
The intensity of the game has the player sweating more than usual and the court becomes a slippery slope throwing them all around.
Lewis on a tough shot gets aggressive and scores on Rajon Rondo’s defense. He is then back to score back-to-back covers and puts down three more on the scoreboard.
A well worked ball play by the Magic, leaves Pierce angry and he shoves Redick to the ground after the whistle picking up his fourth foul.
Nothing that Celtics are doing is getting them any closer to the 13 point lead the Magic have built.
Nelson from steps away from the three point line hits another three while Carter with a steal helps Mickael Pietrus make a run for it and scores another two points.
Dwight Howard and the Magic are firing up the fans in the Amway Arena.
Wallace makes a classical mistake and fouls out with four minutes left. The Celtics now have nobody to replace one of their top shooters and the bench is getting empty.
The last seconds of the game have the Magic dominating with lay ups and rebounds.
—Final score 113-92.
Back to back wins for the Magic. A heroic show for the fans that still believed the fight wasn’t over.
Next game is in Boston this Friday and if the Magic pull another win, they will take the final game 7 back to Orlando on Sunday…and possibly a record for the NBA Playoffs.
“We just all believe,” Nelson said. “We all believe. We know we can do it.”
Orlando fans do too.
Fernanda Barros for West Orlando News Online