For a three-season span from the 2007-08 campaign to the 2009-10 season, the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals each year. Twice during that span, those teams met in the playoffs and overall, they enjoyed some very good battles against one another.
One of the showdowns that went the Magic’s way took place on this day 10 years ago. Rashard Lewis played the role of hero with the game-winning shot as Orlando erased a 16-point deficit in a 96-94 win at Amway Arena.
The Magic and Celtics were separated by just a game and a half as they met before a national television audience on Jan. 28, 2010. Orlando trailed by dougle digits after each of the first three quarters and by 14 in the final period before making a furious rally.
Orlando used a 23-8 run to take its first lead of the game as Marcin Gortat knocked down a jumper with less than five minutes to play. From there, the lead would change six times.
A lay-in by Dwight Howard put the Magic in front 91-89 with more than two minutes to play, but Boston answered with five straight points. After assisting on a Paul Pierce three-pointer to put the Celtics back in front, Rajon Rondo banked home a contested runner to push the lead to three with less than a minute remaining.
After a timeout, Orlando guard J.J. Redick connected on a triple of his own to knot the score at 94 with 41 seconds to play. Boston’s Ray Allen missed on a three-point attempt of his own on the other end and Lewis secured the rebound to give the Magic the final shot and set up his own heroics.
With less than 15 seconds to play, Orlando called timeout and inbounded from the frontcourt. Redick eventually found Lewis matched up with Boston’s Kevin Garnett on the perimeter. Lewis was able to get the step to his right before finishing with a layup off glass with just 1.3 seconds remaining.
Down 96-94, the Celtics were able to advance the ball into the frontcourt with a timeout. Rondo was unable to find a timeout and signaled for another timeout. The ball would ultimately end up in the hands of Celtics’ forward Rasheed Wallace, who appeared to have a good look for three from the top of the arc. Wallace’s winning attempt however, was wide left for an airball as time expired.
Lewis finished the night with a game-high 23 points to go with eight rebounds. Howard added 19 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in the victory. Guards Jameer Nelson and Redick added 12 and 11 points, respectively, in the victory.
For much of the night, Orlando’s outlook seemed bleak. A triple by Eddie House on Boston’s first possession of the fourth quarter pushed the lead to 75-61, but a pair of triples from Magic guard Jason Williams and three free throws from Gortat quickly put the Magic within striking distance. At one point during Orlando’s late push, Howard scored nine straight Magic points.
Allen paced Boston with 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting, but was unable to come through in the clutch. The same was true for Wallace, who added 17 points. Paul Pierce, Rondo and House tallied 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The Magic took three of four meetings from Boston during the 2009-10 regular season, but the Celtics got the last laugh by outlasting Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games. Of the 10 total match-ups between the teams, five were decided by five points or less. The closest and perhaps most thrilling of those came on this day 10 years ago.