Magic Still Believe in Their Chances to Win Series


Magic Still Believe in Their Chances to Win Series How could you tell that the Orlando Magic weren't ready to end their season with a Game 4 loss to the Celtics on the TD Garden parquet?

Let me count the ways.

You could tell by listening to Stan Van Gundy scream at his team in every huddle at every timeout, determined to breathe enough fire into his guys to pull out one win.

You could tell by watching Dwight Howard dominate the paint all night long, pounding home dunk after dunk and grabbing every rebound in sight.

And you could most certainly tell by witnessing Jameer Nelson, with his entire season hanging in the balance, loft up two huge 3-pointers in the final three minutes of overtime, making them both and propelling the Magic to a 96-92 victory over the Celtics on Monday night. For one more night, the Magic live on.

"He just took and made big shots," Vince Carter said of Nelson. "He was fearless. He wanted to win, and he got the job done for us.”

"I thought his play throughout the game was the reason we got a chance to win," Howard said. "And from then on, it was all about confidence, and we trust him. And he has to have confidence in himself. He did tonight. I don't know too many people who hit bank shot threes in overtime. He's one guy that if he believes he can do it, he will. He did a great job tonight."

After Orlando's dismal performance in Game 3 in Boston, you had to wonder how much fight the Magic had left in them. They had come out on Saturday night and played 48 minutes of uninspired basketball, failing to recognize the urgency of the 0-2 deficit. They allowed the Celtics to outhustle them, outwork them, outplay them.

It was a question of who else would step up besides Howard. Nelson put that question to bed from the opening tip. He found opportunities early to drive the lane, putting the Celtics on their heels with driving layups and running jumpers. It didn't take long for the Magic to find that extra element they were lacking offensively.

"I thought he was really aggressive," Van Gundy said. "He's got a lot of guts. He's a tough, competitive guy. I thought he played with great aggressiveness and fought very, very hard."

The Magic got what they wanted out of Game 4 — a win. They earned the right to fight another day, and now they're heading home with a chance to make a series out of this.

It helps to be a team that never loses sight of the big picture.

"If you don't think you can win the series … A lot of times people say, 'You can't think about winning the series, you have to win one game.' I've never really bought into that," Van Gundy said. "I've never been down 3‑0 as a head coach. I've been 3‑1. Stuff like that. If you don't believe you're going win the series, then it's just too easy to let go. Yeah, you've got to play it one game at a time, but you have to have a belief somewhere that you can win the series. Otherwise there's just not enough to sustain you and to keep you going in a game."

Perhaps now, with a win under their belts, the Magic can just start to see that light at the end of the tunnel. They know that coming back from down 3-0 is hard, but not totally impossible. This victory was the Magic's reminder to themselves of what they're capable of.

So now, they look ahead.

"We didn't win this game just to win a game, just to say we were in this series," Howard said. "You know, we want to make this a series and win this series. We all have to believe that. I told the guys before the game — put out all disbelief, anxiety and fear. We've just got to keep playing. We can't think about losing or think about being swept. We have to think about winning and staying together."

And on Monday night, Howard added, "we did that."

It's a start. They've got to do it three more times.

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