In a game completely devoid of any drama, the Boston Celtics handily defeated the Orlando Magic, 112-94, to even their Eastern Conference Semifinals series at 1-1. Boston never trailed in its commanding victory, which was also the Magic's first decisive loss of the postseason. Eddie House posted a career-playoff-high with 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting (4-of-4 from three-point range) to lead all scorers, while Rajon Rondo posted his third triple-double (15 points, 11 rebounds, 18 assists) of this postseason. Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus led Orlando with 17 points apiece, but no one distinguished himself. More worrisome is the likely suspension of starting point guard Rafer Alston, who slapped House in the back of the head after House made one of his three-pointers. UPDATE: Kelly Dwyer has video and commentary, while InsideHoops writes that Alston said he was responding to an elbow House threw.
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Quite honestly, there isn't much to say regarding this game. Nobody should be surprised that the Celtics were highly motivated to make a statement after their dismal showing in Game 1. But I don't think anybody expected the Magic to just wilt the way they did. The Celtics led the entire way, and their offense made the Magic's league-best defense look absolutely silly. Crisp ball movement, hot shooting... to say Boston was potent tonight is to do that word a disservice. And it managed this incredible performance with Paul Pierce stuck on the bench due to foul trouble.
It may be tempting to use the "it's just not their night" excuse regarding this game. When House is shooting the way he did.... it's just not the Magic's night. When Kendrick Perkins is hitting set shots from the baseline.... it's just not the Magic's night. You get the idea. But there's a litany of things that went wrong for Orlando in this game. I won't even attempt to list them all. Suffice it to say, though, that the Magic would be hard-pressed to beat any NBA team with the way they played tonight.
Even more frustrating was that Orlando had several opportunities to make a run when the game was still competitive. When Dwight Howard went to the foul line with 7:11 to play in the first half, he had a chance to bring Orlando within 8 with two makes. He split the pair, and the Celtics responded with a three-pointer from House. The next Magic possession resulted in an ugly hook from Howard, which the C's converted into an easy layup for Glen Davis. Maddening.
Worse was the beginning of the third quarter, when the Celtics looked out-of-sorts offensively, managing four points in the first 3:31 of the half. They left the door open for the Magic to challenge... except the Magic managed a single point in that same timespan. Boston worked itself out of its funk and began bombing away from the outside, scoring seemingly at will, and blew the game wide open.
Nothing good came of this game. Celtics Hub doesn't think House will shoot this hot again in this series, and thus is due for an ineffective outing in a more competitive game later this series. That's the only potential positive I see. And with Alston's probable suspension, Orlando faces the prospect of having to defend home court with a two-man point guard rotation of Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue. I am... less than enthusiastic... but will keep hope alive. Against my better judgement, perhaps.