- Brian Schmitz states what fueled Orlando's victory over Boston last night ...
He said he had heard the doubters dismiss the Magic after Alston was suspended Thursday for slapping Celtics shooting guard Eddie House in the head late in Game 2.
"I've been considered an underdog, considered not good enough to lead. I had heard we had no chance," [Anthony] Johnson said.
"I enjoy proving people wrong."
Johnson finished with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and three assists. He set the tone with a dunk that belied his 34 years for the Magic's second basket.
He was a perfect 3-of-3 in the first quarter as the club shot 58.8 percent — just a warm-up for the franchise playoff-record 59.1 percent they would shoot against the vaunted Celtics' defense.
... and also notes that there's no beef between A.J. & Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy. The two had a small scuffle during the third quarter.
Anthony Johnson, subbing for the suspended Rafer Alston, threw an elbow into Stan Van Gundy as the starting point guard and the coach jawed after Johnson committed a turnover. [...]
"That wasn't an animated discussion. A.J. was upset and I was upset," Van Gundy said, chuckling.
"It was in the heart of battle. I said something to him first. I have tremendous respect for A.J. He got us off to a great start."
Johnson said, "It was the heat of the moment. It was 100 percent my fault." [...]
Johnson sat the entire fourth quarter, but Van Gundy said keeping A.J. on the bench had nothing to do with their dust-up — and everything to do with the Magic closing the door on the Celtics with the patchwork of point guards on the floor.
- Mike Bianchi toys with the idea that Orlando should consider getting a player suspended every game, from here on out, given how well the team has played in response to some adversity so far in the playoffs:
Give the Magic some pressure, put them at a disadvantage and they suddenly turn foul and fierce and fast and fluid. You take a key player out of the Magic's lineup and they transform into a bunch of rabid coyotes fighting over that last drumstick on a gazelle carcass.
"I can't explain it," Van Gundy said.
I don't know how it happens or why it happens, but it happens. It definitely happens.
- Kyle Hightower talks about the return of shooting guard Courtney Lee and the type of impact the rookie had on the game last night versus Boston:
"The people that made the mask did a good job with it because it didn't even bother me," said Lee, still with a slight shiner under his left eye. "My wind was pretty good, which you worry about not having played awhile. I think after Coach saw my first [shot] go in, he knew I was feeling pretty good."
Lee got his first basket with 6:52 left in the first quarter when Dwight Howard stripped Kendrick Perkins and found him on an outlet for a breakaway layup.
Lee also held his own defending Ray Allen, helping hold him to just six first-half points.
Lee rotated over on point guard Rajon Rondo, and during one Celtics first-half possession Lee dove on the floor for a loose ball and tied up Rondo. He won the jump ball and on the Magic's subsequent possession sank a 21-foot jumper.
"One thing the coaching staff was worried about was if he'd be tentative," Van Gundy said. "You see a play like that and all your fears go away."
Howard was also impressed.
"Little Rip Hamilton? He was great ... He played like himself tonight. The whole playoffs he's stepped up and did something to help us win. I'm just glad he's back."
- George Diaz comments that the matchup between the Magic and Celtics is beginning to heat up, mainly due to the chippiness and physical play the two teams have exhibited so far in the series.
- Josh Robbins gathers the thoughts of a few Boston players after the game ...
"I thought they kept us on our heels all night," said Pierce, who scored 21 of his team-high 27 points in the second half. "When we're indecisive defensively, then it's a long night. We didn't get out to the shooters. We allowed [Dwight] Howard to come down the middle. And when you give them their inside game and their outside game, you don't have a chance."
"Everything we did today was our fault: key turnovers, defensive possessions," said Glen Davis. "They hit big shots — something we can control, that we can handle. I just feel good about our team."
... and gets some words from Celtics head coach Doc Rivers too.
"We've got to do a better job of getting him space," said Boston Coach Doc Rivers. "I think he's doing a little bit of what he did in Chicago, where he's driving a little bit too deep. I think he has the best in-between game in the NBA. I think he's trying to get to the basket and get deep, and getting deep with Howard standing around isn't necessarily the best move."
- Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com assesses that Boston center Kendrick Perkins runs the risk of being suspended for Game 4 versus Orlando on Sunday ...
The French word for throat is "gorge."
And the "gorge" was where Kendrick Perkins' elbow struck Frenchman Mickael Pietrus' throat early in the fourth quarter of Boston's humbling 117-96 defeat Friday night in Orlando, which dropped the Celtics into a 2-1 deficit against the Magic in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
That play brings us back to one of the topics that has been a major theme of the 2008-09 postseason: The elbow rule. And what we've learned is if you strike an opposing player above the shoulders with a malicious elbow, you're getting a one-game suspension.
... and fleshes out what that means for the Celtics.
If he is forced to miss Game 4, the Celtics -- already without front-line stalwarts Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe -- would be forced to start either Brian Scalabrine or Mikki Moore on the front line, or perhaps move Glen Davis over to center and go with a smaller starting lineup featuring three guards.
Either way, they're going to be smaller, and that is not going to be a good thing against an Orlando team that figured out in the first half of Game 3 that it could attack the basket instead of relying primarily on the 3-point shot.
- Matt Steinmetz of NBA Fanhouse criticizes Dwight for using his left hand in games. Not sure he got the memo, but Howard is naturally left-handed.
- Tim Povtak offers his assessment of the Magic's win over the Celtics.
- Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated wonders aloud when Orlando and Boston will provide a compelling game in the series. Maybe Game 4?
Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm chimes in on yesterday's game:
Absolutely phenomenal job by Anthony Johnson. He didn’t force the issue very often at all. He wasn’t trying to shut down Rondo, he was overplaying the strong side to force him into the trap or the baseline. He wasn’t trying to create his own shot, he was taking what the Celtics gave him. It was a weird comparison. There’s Rondo, settling for jumpers or passing up opportunities, and there was Anthonhy Johnson, just playing within his abilities and getting the job done. Way to go, old timer.
- UPDATE: David Steele gives his observations of Orlando's Game 3 win.
- UPDATE 2: Celtics' center Kendrick Perkins was not handed further punishment after his elbow on the Magic's Mickael Pietrus last night.
UPDATE 3: Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus elaborates on how Orlando was able to win last night:
This was the performance the Orlando Magic had been waiting to get from Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu. The standout pair of forwards has been relatively quiet since hobbling into the postseason battling nagging injuries, but Game Three was a showcase for their all-around skills. Lewis was equally adept playing in the post or on the perimeter, while Turkoglu took on the role of point guard in the fourth quarter and helped the Magic put the Boston Celtics away. Lewis and Turkoglu combined for 52 points on 17-for-29 shooting as Orlando shot 59.1 percent from the field and 9-for-18 from three-point range in putting up 117 points in 94 possessions. Nice.
- For a Celtics perspective, make sure to check out CelticsBlog & Celtics Hub.
Make sure to check out this post every few hours for updates.