After their game 4 victory in Boston, several Orlando Magic players insisted that they didn’t want to just win a game for pride – they thought they had a shot at making history. If their performance in game 5 is any indication, they might be capable of doing just that. In a game that has been described as momentum changing, the Magic defeated the Celtics 113-92 to keep their NBA championship hopes alive.
The tone was set by Magic center Dwight Howard, who as we noted yesterday, needed to continue his high level of play for Orlando to stay alive. Howard poured in 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked 5 shots. Guard Jameer Nelson added 24 points of his own, while forward Rashard Lewis, who’s been dealing with flu-like symptoms, contributed 14 points. The biggest factor for the Magic was their first successful night shooting the deep ball in the series, making 13-25 from three point territory.
For the Celtics, the night was a rough one. Particular for their seemingly deep frontcourt. Center Kendrick Perkins was ejected after receiving two technical fouls late in the first half. Forward Glen Davis left the game with a concussion after being on the receiving end of a Dwight Howard elbow late in the third quarter. Rasheed Wallace fouled out with about 5 minutes left to play in the game, and according to head coach Doc Rivers, tweaked his back in the process. In addition to the trouble with their big men, Boston only shot 43% from the field, and the “big three” combination of Pierce, Allen, and Garnett only netted 37 combined points.
Heading into game 6, the status of several Boston players is unclear. It appeared that Perkins may have been suspended for the pivotal game due to reaching the NBA’s technical foul limit, but one of his techs from last night’s game was rescinded earlier today. Glen Davis’ status is still up in the air, though it is believed that he will take the court. Wallace’s back injury isn’t believed to be serious, but his status for game 6 is also unknown. Boston will certainly need as many healthy big bodies as they can suit up to stop a rejuvenated Dwight Howard.
In the history of major American professional sports leagues, there have only been four 3-0 series comebacks. Twice, those comebacks involved a team from Boston. The Red Sox triumph over the rival Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, and of course, the Philadelphia Flyers stunning the Boston Bruins in the NHL playoffs this year. However, no team has ever accomplished the feat in the NBA. That hasn’t stopped the Magic from believing that they can be the team that changes that. “At this point we believe we can win the series,” said Jameer Nelson. “We have to stay humble and keep focused and remember how we won these last two games. I believe they have pressure on them right now, but they have veteran players with Hall of Famers and a great coach.” We’ll see if the Magic can continue their bid to re-write history when they take on the Celtics in Boston on Friday.
images via Yahoo
Dwight Howard and Amar’e Stoudemire may be the two best young big men in the NBA. Between the two are 9 NBA All-Star Games, 8 All-NBA Teams, two NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards, and a Rookie of the Year trophy. One glaring absence from that list is the mention of a NBA championship. While the two youngsters are certainly talented, they have not held the NBA’s ultimate prize. Dwight’s Magic appeared in the NBA Finals last season, but fell short in their bid to overcome Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Stoudemire has been a part of great Phoenix teams that just couldn’t reach that next level, never making it out of the Western Conference Finals. However, with the talent level of these two players, one would have to figure that their best years were in front of them – or were they?
Both Dwight and Amar’e were heading in the right direction coming into the conference finals. Dwight averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds through the first two rounds of the playoffs, both series being swept by his Orlando Magic. Amar’e, looking like the “STAT” of old, helped his Suns cruise through the first two rounds, including a sweep of the long time rival San Antonio Spurs. However, things took a turn for the worst for both players in the Conference Finals. Dwight and the Magic fell behind 3-0 to the Boston Celtics, largely in part to underwhelming performances from Howard. In two of the three games, Dwight was held to 3-10 shooting from the field. He also reeled in just 15 combined rebounds in games 2 and 3. Also having rebounding woes out west was Amar’e Stoudemire. He averaged just 4.5 boards in the first two games of the series, and his failure to play defensive effectively allowed the Lakers to dominate the paint. His offense also looked stagnant, and fans in Phoenix were left wondering what happened to the Stoudemire of the first two series. Would these two players respond or were they mentally checked out of the playoffs already?
Amar’e answered his critics in Sunday night’s game 3. After averaging just 20 points and 4 rebounds in the first two games, Stoudemire erupted for 42 points and 11 rebounds. “I wanted to attack their bigs a little bit and get them into foul trouble,” said Stoudemire. That plan worked to perfection, as he routinely attacked the basket, drawing fouls in the process. The result was 18 free throw attempts Amar’e, with 14 of them finding the bottom of the net. He also had his hand in Phoenix’s zone defensive strategy, which puzzled the Lakers offense for majority of the game.
Last night, Howard had a coming out party of his own. After the NBA’s leading rebounder failed to secure double-digit boards in the previous two games, he cradled 16 on the night, 5 of them being on the offensive side of the ball. Howard also poured in a playoff-high 32 points and added 4 blocked shots to help the Magic avoid a series sweep. After the game, it was revealed that Howard received a phone call from NBA Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon prior to the game. “Me and him had a great talk,” Howard said. “He just inspired me to keep playing.” Critics have urged Dwight to reach out to Olajuwon for help with his post game for years. Could this be the start of a new working relationship?
Needless to say, one game doesn’t get it done. The Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic still find themselves down in their respective series. Phoenix has the opportunity to even things up tonight. Orlando is in must-win mode the rest of the way. For their teams to have continued success, Amar’e and Dwight will need to have more games like their most recent outings.
images via Yahoo
After sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round, the Orlando seems to have found their magic yet again this post season. Sure the Magic have been one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference over the last few years, but Dwight Howard’s foul troubles in the first round brought out the awaiting skeptics.
Tuesday night those skeptics were silenced as the Orlando Magic dismantled the Atlanta Hawks on the way to a 43 point victory. Howard was on, and seemingly unstoppable in what looked more like an Orlando highlight reel than a playoff game. Not only did Dwight rarely miss (80% from the field), he dominated the boards and the paint. Howard finished with 12 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
If the Magic’s performance last night isn’t enough to place them as the favorite in the Eastern Conference playoffs, throw in a little nagging elbow injury to LeBron James and the Magic have to be considered the biggest threat in the East at the moment. Five games in and they haven’t faltered, nobody else in the NBA Playoffs can say that.
Be sure to check out Dwight Howard’s videos at video.eastbay.com
Behind 25 points from Brandon Jennings, and an unbelievable streak to close out the game, the Milwaukee Bucks shocked most NBA fans Wednesday night by beating the Hawks in Atlanta. The victory gives Milwaukee a 3-2 lead in the best of seven series. The team’s “Fear The Deer” catchphrase will likely be chanted by a capacity crowd at the Bradley Center Friday night as the Bucks look to close out the series with their fourth consecutive win. Will they be able to continue the streak? Is Atlanta fearing the deer?
In the West, the Nuggets held off the Utah Jazz thanks in large part to the fans of the Mile High City that came early to support their team. With the Nuggets facing elimination, they looked to their leader Carmelo Anthony, who delivered with a double-double. All in all it was the whole team that was motivated, with six players scoring in double figures.
Sneaker Watch spotted Joe Johnson switching up his choice of Jordan shoes at halftime as well as some famous fans sitting court side in the Anniversary Edition Jordan 3. Mike Bibby was also spotted in the latest colorway of the Chris Paul signature, the Jordan CP3.III.
Check them out below.
Comedians George Lopez (left), and Martin Lawrence (right) sitting court side, Lawrence in the Air Jordan 3 Anniversary.
Jerry Stackhouse in the adidas TS Commander, drives past Mike Bibby in the Jordan CP3.III.
Dan Gadzuric dunks in the adidas TS Commander, as Mike Bibby looks on in the Jordan CP3.III.
Brandon Jennings wore the Under Armour Prototype low, and for more on these shoes visit Sole Collector.
Joe Johnson wore the Jordan Icons throughout the early part of the game.
Joe Johnson then switched to the Air Jordan 12 PE for the second half, while Brandon Jennings takes a fall in his Under Armour PE.
Jerry Stackhouse lays it in wearing the adidas TS Commander against Josh Smith, who’s wearing the adidas TS Supernatural Commander PE.
Carlos Boozer shoots a jumper in the lane wearing the Nike Air Max Hyperize.
Chauncey Billups shoots wearing the TS Lightning Creator PE.
Deron Williams lays in a bucket wearing the Nike Hyperfuse.
Deron Williams in the Nike Hyperfuse drives past Ty Lawson in the Nike KD II.
And lastly, JR Smith caps off the win with a two-handed windmill. He’s wearing the LeBron VII PS, with some added carolina blue laces.
The NBA Playoffs this weekend reminds you of why they are so great. From Manu Ginobli playing through a broken nose, to Brandon Roy returning to the hardwood for the Blazers barely a week after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus, this weekend displayed the type of action and heart that basketball fans live for.
The young Oklahoma City Thunder, led by Kevin Durant, won again at home against the defending champs, the Los Angeles Lakers. In Miami, it took 46 points from D-Wade to keep the hope alive for the Miami Heat, who are now down 3-1 to the Boston Celtics. While the Bobcats have shown a lot of fight, the lack of experience has them win-less, and down three games to the Orlando Magic.
In this edition of Sneaker Watch we get a look at a wide range of shoes, from favorites in the Jordan line, to recent retro Air Penny III’s, to Quentin Richardson breaking out a pair of the upcoming Air Jordan Retro 2. Check out all the sneakers from this weekend’s action below.
Carlos Boozer in the Nike Hyperize PE.
Carmelo Anthony in the Jordan Melo M6 Future Sole.
Mike Bibby shoots a jumper wearing the Air Jordan 13.
Joe Johnson wearing the Jordan Six Rings.
Kevin Durant in the Nike KD II PE drives past Kobe Bryant wearing the Nike Zoom Kobe V Playoff.
Tyrus Thomas dunks in the Nike Zoom Flip’N.
Larry Hughes wearing the Nike Blue Chip II.
Dwight Howard slams in down with two hands in the adidas TS Supernatural Commander.
Michael Beasley and Kevin Garnett both wearing PE colorways of the adidas TS Supernatural Commander
Quentin Richardson of the Heat shoots wearing the Air Jordan II against Paul Pierce of the Celtics in the Nike Air Legacy.
Ray Allen lays it in wearing the Jordan Icons PE.
Paul Pierce, in the Nike Air Legacy, shoots over Dorell Wright wearing the Nike Air Penny III.
Dwyane Wade celebrates wearing the Air Jordan 2010 PE.