- Brian Schmitz segues the odds Rashard Lewis' horse has in winning the Kentucky Derby, which is this Saturday, to the odds the Orlando Magic had last night in closing out the Philadelphia 76ers without Dwight Howard:
"He's a long shot, but why not? He's mine. I got to," Lewis said of his thoroughbred, Join In The Dance. "I'd have to put money on us. We're supposed to be a long shot against Philly, right?"
The team couldn't be happier after the victory, especially head coach Stan Van Gundy (yes, folks ... he is human, not a robot):
The Magic held a group hug when the buzzer sounded at Wachovia Center, merrily bounding into the locker room. The teams switched roles after fates turned on the absences of Howard and Lee. The third-seeded Magic played the part of the victorious underdog, the sixth-seeded Sixers sulked off the floor after blowing a golden opportunity.
"How about that! You just never know what will happen in this league. A great performance. The last thing I said to our guys leaving the locker room was 'Be great today.' Other people don't know what we have in here, but we do.
"People questioned our toughness all season. That's an unfair criticism. Don't tell me they aren't tough."
- Mike Bianchi explains why not many people were giving the Magic a shot at beating the Sixers yesterday:
You want to talk about an unlikely recipe for success? This was like the Magic making the most incredible Philly cheesesteak you could possibly imagine — without the steak and the cheese.
The Magic weren't just missing their franchise player — suspended center Dwight Howard — they were also missing injured shooting guard Courtney Lee.
Bianchi even apologizes for being wrong about Rashard:
[...] First of all, let's issue a Mikey mea culpa on Lewis, who I wrote wasn't earning his $118 million contract during the first four games of this series. Lewis came up big in Game 5 with 24 points. He came up mammoth in Game 6 with 29 points.
- Want to know why Hedo Turkoglu was so irate at the end of the game, when he was ejected after a scuffle with Samuel Dalembert? Click here to check out some revealing photos that show Dalembert kissing Turkoglu.
- The Orlando Sentinel reports that Courtney Lee's surgery to repair a fractured sinus cavity was successful, which is good to hear:
"Things went well. There doesn't appear to be anything major," General Manager Otis Smith said.
Smith couldn't say immediately how long Lee would be out. The club had previously believed he would miss seven to 10 days.
One of the leading specialists in repairing Lee's type of injury, Dr. James Palmer, performed the surgery.
Lee likely will miss the first few games of the second round next week.
"If it was hockey, I think he could play on Saturday. But this is basketball, so you have to plan a few days. I don't know how long he'll be out," Smith said.
Smith said that when Lee does return he will have to play with a protective mask. "I think he has to wear that a little while," he said.
I'm sure the last sentence will catch the eye of several 3QC members that toss around the Rip Hamilton & Courtney Lee comparisons a bit.
- Henry Abbott of TrueHoop surmises what the flight home to Orlando might be like for the Magic, who will surely celebrate the series victory in style.
- Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com was in Philadelphia covering the matchup and thus chronicles what occurred during and after the game for Orlando.
Bethlehem Shoals of the Sporting Blog chimes in with his thoughts once the Magic were victorious over the Sixers last night:
At some point, I heard that the Magic had beat Philly, advancing into the next round without the help of Dwight Howard or Courtney Lee. That wasn't such a surprise; Philadelphia's success was almost random at times. Whether it exposed Orlando, or just hit its Achilles heel, will only be determined when we see how the Magic match up against stiffer competition next week. But in a series that has lead some to second-guess Howard for lacking real post game; wonder whether his teammates are doing a good enough job of getting him the ball; and ask whether Shaq might not have been right about Stan Van Gundy's lack of grace under pressure, I found the following post-game quote from the Sixers' Andre Miller both telling and a little shocking:
"They're actually better without Dwight Howard. One of their players told me that they were better without Dwight Howard. They said the ball moves quicker. They're not standing around a lot."
This, of course, is the Ewing Theory, which asserts generically that a team is better when they play minus their star. The reasons for this, though, are on a case-by-case basis. If Miller heard this, or saw something that convinced him he had, it's further proof that the Magic need to figure the root of their problems. Chances are it's not the NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year and dominant dunking machine, but stranger things have happened.
Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie offers his post-game assessment of Orlando's series-clinching win over Philadelphia:
There will be a lame kerfuffle about Andre Miller's postgame comments about how the Magic moved the ball better with a suspended Dwight miles away from the arena, and he wouldn't be wrong in that bit of analysis. But that was for one game, and it's not as if Dwight's presence precludes the Magic from swinging the ball and making quick decisions when Howard is in the game.
We know, because we've seen it from them. And we've also seen what happens to the Magic when they don't make quick decisions, when they don't pass quickly, and when they hold the ball. [...]
The Magic will move on, and get to either play a Boston team missing its best player, or a Bulls outfit that they dominated during the regular season (including a one-sided win after Chicago's trade deadline moves). Good time to get things right, the house in order, and the ball movement back.
Oh, and the 6-11 guy who can kiss the rim. Get him back, too.
- If you want to read up on the reactions from Philly fans, I suggest checking out Depressed Fan, Liberty Ballers, & Sixers 4 Guidos and get their takes.
UPDATE 2: Elias Sports Bureau, Inc. shares the rundown on how historic Orlando's blowout win was yesterday versus Philadelphia:
The 76ers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Magic, 114-89. That's the largest margin of defeat in an elimination loss in a home game in 76ers franchise history and it's the largest for any NBA team in an elimination game at home since the Grizzlies were bounced from the 2006 playoffs by the Mavericks in a 26-point game.
UPDATE 3: Here's the lowdown on the upcoming second round schedule for the Magic. Plan accordingly (via Orlando Magic Daily):
If Boston vs. Orlando...
Game 1 - Mon., May 4, Orlando at Boston, 8:00PM, TNT
Game 2 - Wed, May 6, Orlando at Boston, 8:00PM, TNT
Game 3 - Fri., May 8, Boston at Orlando, 7:00PM, ESPN
Game 4 - Sun., May 10, Boston at Orlando, 8:00PM, TNT
Game 5 * Tue., May 12, Orlando at Boston, Time TBD, TNT
Game 6 * Thu., May 14, Boston at Orlando, Time TBD, ESPN
Game 7 * Sun., May 17, Orlando at Boston, Time TBD, TNT
If Chicago vs. Orlando...
Game 1 - Mon., May 4, Chicago at Orlando, 8:00PM, TNT
Game 2 - Wed, May 6, Chicago at Orlando, 8:00PM, TNT
Game 3 - Fri., May 8, Orlando at Chicago, 7:00PM, ESPN
Game 4 - Sun., May 10, Orlando at Chicago, 8:00PM, TNT
Game 5 * Tue., May 12, Chicago at Orlando, Time TBD, TNT
Game 6 * Thu., May 14, Orlando at Chicago, Time TBD, ESPN
Game 7 * Sun., May 17, Chicago at Orlando, Time TBD, TNT
UPDATE 4: Here's what Dwight Howard had to say about his team after their dominating and thrilling series-clinching win:
Now, how about my teammates??? They were awesome. Those boys went out there with something to prove and they really did me proud. They dominated that game from start to finish and never gave Philly an ounce of hope. That’s how we have to play on both ends of the court if we want to keep winning in the playoffs and bring that championship back to O-town.
The Polish Hammer was dunking on their heads. J.J. was drilling those 3s. Rafer was doing his thing. And ‘Shard was a beast on the low block. Everybody pitched in and helped out and it was cool to see the whole team working together like that.
UPDATE 5: Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus assesses Orlando's victory over Philadelphia:
All it took for the real Magic offense to return was Dwight Howard to get suspended and Courtney Lee to get injured. Wait, what? Orlando finally got it going from beyond the arc, torching Philadelphia to the tune of 46.2 percent three-point shooting, with 12 makes in 26 attempts. Lee's replacement in the starting lineup, J.J. Redick, proved the catalyst. Redick made five three-pointers and scored 15 points with four assists, while Marcin Gortat (11 points, 15 rebounds) provided a credible Howard impersonation (at least at the defensive end) and continued towards a solid payday this summer, when he'll become a restricted free agent.
With Howard and Lee absent and Hedo Turkoglu suffering through a rough series, the onus fell to Rashard Lewis to lead the Magic's offense. Lewis came through, scoring 29 points on 11-for-22 shooting on a night that saw him help fill in the Howard void by playing more in the post and less on the perimeter. Rafer Alston also had his best game of the series, scoring 21 points, handing out 10 assists and turning the ball over just once.
[...] The team now heads home to Orlando to get a couple of days of rest while the Celtics and Bulls continue to wear each other out in a battle of attrition.
- UPDATE 6: David Steele provides his take on on Game 6 between the Magic and Sixers. Check it out.
UPDATE: Ben here. Here's video of Marcin Gortat dropping the (Polish) hammer on Samuel Dalembert, courtesy of Ball Don't Lie.
Make sure to check out this post every few hours for updates. Grazie.