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Magic cuts ties with coach, GM

ORLANDO — For months, the Magic trudged through the aftermath of a preseason trade request by Dwight Howard that sapped the life out of the franchise as internal team issues quickly affected the product on the floor.

Now after one of the most tumultuous seasons in team history, it made the first move in what promises to be a huge offseason shakeup.

The Magic fired coach Stan Van Gundy on Monday and agreed to part ways with general manager Otis Smith, severing ties with two of the architects of one of the most successful runs in franchise history.

Smith and Van Gundy's relationship with Howard was the centerpiece of drama the team faced all season, and after its second straight first-round playoff exit, CEO Alex Martins said the shift was warranted.

"It's time for a new leadership and a new approach," Martins said at a news conference to discuss the moves. "We simply came to the decision that we were not on the right track."

Martins wouldn't go into many specifics about what he is looking for in replacements, saying only that he and ownership want to fill the general manager post by June's NBA draft.

He said he would sit down with ownership today to begin ironing out the details of both searches.

Van Gundy, 51, exits with the most wins in franchise history, going 259-135 in the regular season and 31-28 in the playoffs.

"Don't really want to comment except to say that I am really proud of what we accomplished over the past five years and I look forward to whatever comes next," Van Gundy wrote in a text message to the Orlando Sentinel.

Orlando went 37-29 in the regular season but was eliminated in five games by Indiana after a rash of late-season injuries that included back surgery for Howard. The Magic went 5-12 without him.

Martins said those consecutive first-round playoff exits were "simply not good enough."

Celtics gain edge

BOSTON — Brandon Bass scored 18 of his postseason career-high 27 in the third quarter Monday night as the Celtics pulled away from the 76ers to win 101-85 and take a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Kevin Garnett added 20 points and Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 14 assists for Boston, which can advance to the East final with a victory Wednesday in Game 6 in Philadelphia. The Sixers would need a win there to force the series back to Boston for a decisive seventh game on Saturday.

Elton Brand scored 19 and Evan Turner had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, which led by six points early in the third quarter before Boston scored 14 of the next 16. Bass scored eight of them, including back-to-back dunks followed by a steal that set up Ray Allen's fastbreak layup to give the Celtics a 63-57 lead with five minutes left in the quarter.

Boston closed out the third with a 10-2 run over the final three minutes and outscored the Sixers 28-16 in the quarter. The Celtics also scored 16 of the first 22 in the fourth quarter, seven from Rondo, to put away the game.

Paul Pierce had 16 points and made all nine free throws and Allen, back in the starting lineup because of an injury to Avery Bradley, had five points.

Bass, acquired in December from the Magic, hadn't scored more than 22 this season.

PHILADELPHIA (85): Iguodala 3-10 1-4 8, Brand 8-13 3-4 19, Hawes 4-8 2-2 10, Holiday 4-6 0-0 10, Turner 5-13 1-2 11, Meeks 0-3 0-0 0, L.Allen 6-6 0-0 12, T.Young 3-8 0-0 6, L.Williams 3-10 3-4 9, Silas 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 36-77 10-16 85.

BOSTON (101): Pierce 3-7 9-9 16, Bass 9-13 9-10 27, Garnett 8-17 4-5 20, Rondo 6-10 1-3 13, R.Allen 2-7 0-0 5, Stiemsma 5-5 0-0 10, Pietrus 1-4 1-2 3, Dooling 0-1 0-0 0, Hollins 1-2 0-2 2, Daniels 0-1 2-2 2, Moore 0-1 0-0 0, Pavlovic 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 36-69 26-33 101.

Philadelphia 27 23 16 19— 85

Boston 23 24 28 26— 101

3-Point GoalsPhiladelphia 3-9 (Holiday 2-3, Iguodala 1-4, L.Williams 0-2), Boston 3-15 (Pavlovic 1-1, Pierce 1-4, R.Allen 1-5, Rondo 0-1, Dooling 0-1, Pietrus 0-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsPhiladelphia 46 (Turner 10), Boston 41 (Garnett, Bass 6). AssistsPhiladelphia 20 (Holiday 7), Boston 22 (Rondo 14). Total FoulsPhiladelphia 24, Boston 18. TechnicalsPhiladelphia Coach Collins. A18,624 (18,624).

LATE SUNDAY: The Spurs are in the Western Conference final, along with their 18-game winning streak and 8-0 mark in the playoffs.

They rallied in the closing minutes behind Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to beat the host Clippers 102-99 and wrap up the second-round series 4-0.

"We needed a game like that. It arrived at the perfect time," Parker said. "We battled. We executed our plays, made big baskets."

Their next opponent will be the Oklahoma City Thunder, which returned to the conference final with a 106-90 over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night for a 4-1 series victory .

"All these teams know each other pretty well, so I don't think there will be a huge surprise for anybody no matter who we play," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

East semifinals

Pacers 2, Heat 2

Game 1: Heat 95, Pacers 86

Game 2: Pacers 78, Heat 75

Game 3: Pacers 94, Heat 75

Game 4: Heat 101, Pacers 93

Tonight: at Miami, 8, TNT

Thursday: at Indiana, 8, ESPN

Saturday: at Miami, TBD, TBD *

Celtics 3, 76ers 2

Game 1: Celtics 92, 76ers 91

Game 2: 76ers 82, Celtics 81

Game 3: Celtics 107, 76ers 91

Game 4: 76ers 92, Celtics 83

Monday: Celtics 101, 76ers 85

Wednesday: at Philadelphia, 8, ESPN

Saturday: at Boston, TBD, TBD *

West semifinals

Spurs 4, Clippers 0

Game 1: Spurs 108, Clippers 92

Game 2: Spurs 105, Clippers 88

Game 3: Spurs 96, Clippers 86

Game 4: Spurs 102, Clippers 99

Thunder 4, Lakers 1

Game 1: Thunder 119, Lakers 90

Game 2: Thunder 77, Lakers 75

Game 3: Lakers 99, Thunder 96

Game 4: Thunder 103, Lakers 100

Monday: Thunder 106, Lakers 90

* If necessary

Magic cuts ties with coach, GM 05/22/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 1:23am]
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