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Magic mulls the tough task ahead

Vince Carter, left, and Dwight Howard face a Celtics franchise that has never blown a 2-0 best-of-seven series lead.

Associated Press

Vince Carter, left, and Dwight Howard face a Celtics franchise that has never blown a 2-0 best-of-seven series lead.

ORLANDO — Magic coach Stan Van Gundy slipped into bed early Wednesday morning and started watching the replay, figuring he'd doze off quickly.

It never happened.

"I thought that, okay, I'll get sleepy watching it and then I'll go to bed and get up and finish it in the morning," he said. "Your mind starts racing, so you don't wind down."

Orlando's play lately tends to have that effect.

The Magic, in an 0-2 hole, has put its dream season in peril heading into Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final Saturday against the Celtics.

Only three teams have ever come back to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first two games at home. The Magic has never rallied from an 0-2 deficit — home or away — and the Celtics have never lost a series with such a lead.

Translation: Orlando is in big trouble.

All-Star center Dwight Howard, looking to energize the Magic, delivered a message to teammates after a brief video session Wednesday. He reminded them they still have a chance — despite the long odds — to return to the NBA Finals.

"There's no need to quit," Howard said. "And there's no reason to say we're going down fighting, because we're not going down.

"You just got to think positive. If you think negative, then you're going to lose. Like I told our guys in the locker room, if anybody has any doubt, then we're not going to win. But if everybody's on the same page and everybody believes that we're going to win this series, then we're going to win it."

That would require a major reversal of the Magic's recent meltdowns.

Vince Carter, who was called for a technical foul earlier in Game 2, missed two free throws with 31.9 seconds left that could have brought Orlando within a point.

The Magic had another chance to tie, but J.J. Redick wasted precious time dribbling until calling timeout with 3.5 seconds left. And since the Magic couldn't advance the ball to the frontcourt, Jameer Nelson was forced to take a desperation 3-pointer that he airballed at the buzzer from near halfcourt. Game over.

After winning 14 straight, including two playoff sweeps, Orlando likely has to win both games in Boston to have any chance to save its season.

About the only positive the Magic can take into Game 3 is that Orlando is 2-0 at Boston this season. It also overcame a 3-2 series deficit in the second round against the Celtics last season to win Game 7 in Boston.

Of course, this is a revived Celtics squad with a healthy Kevin Garnett leading a suffocating defense.

The usually hot-shooting Magic shot just 39 percent Tuesday and has fallen behind by double-digits in both games. Orlando rallied from 11 down in the fourth quarter Tuesday to take the lead before its gaffs.

"I think our guys are really disappointed, but I think it's a resilient group and a confident group. I think they'll be ready to get to work," Van Gundy said. "Time helps you a little bit at this point."

The Magic is scheduled to practice today and Friday.

MORE Celtics-Magic: The stepfather of Celtics guard Marquis Daniels was arrested and subdued with a stun gun during Game 2 in Orlando. The Orlando police report shows Willie L. Buie, 55, was charged with resisting arrest with violence after officers responded to a disturbance in a lower-level section during the second half. Police say they tried to escort Buie from his seat, but he refused.

Lakers: Phil Jackson has discussed taking a pay cut if he returns next season, the coach confirmed before Wednesday's late Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Suns. The 10-time NBA champion coach is making about $12 million in the final year of his contract, thought to be the biggest for a coach in league history. Jackson still hasn't said whether he plans to coach anywhere next season.

76ers: TNT analyst Doug Collins has begun negotiating with the team to become its new coach, the Associated Press reported. Collins, 58, a former 76ers guard, went 332-287 in coaching stints with Chicago, Detroit and Washington.

Knicks: Swingman Wilson Chandler, 23, was charged with a minor drug offense after police said they found marijuana in his car during a traffic stop in Queens. Chandler, 23, and passenger Lamonte Yarbrough, 22, were charged with fifth degree criminal possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor.

Nets: Owner Mikhail Prokhorov says general manager Kiki Vandeweghe will be let go when his contract expires this summer, but he plans to retain team president Rod Thorn.

WNBA: Six-time All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw, 32, was released by Atlanta after coach Marynell Meadors said the forward asked for a trade three days before training camp and did not report to the team. Holdsclaw came out of retirement and averaged 13.9 points a game last year, helping the Dream go from four wins to 18 and a playoff berth.

EAST final


Game 1: Celtics 92, Magic 88

Game 2: Celtics 95, Magic 92

Saturday: at Boston, 8:30, ESPN

Monday: at Boston, 8:30, ESPN

May 26: at Orlando, 8:30, ESPN *

May 28: at Boston, 8:30, ESPN *

May 30: at Orlando, 8:30, ESPN *

West final


Game 1: Lakers 128, Suns 107

Wednesday: at Los Angeles, late

Sunday: at Phoenix, 8:30, TNT

Tuesday: at Phoenix, 9, TNT

May 27: at Los Angeles, 9, TNT *

May 29: at Phoenix, 8:30, TNT *

May 31: at Los Angeles, 9, TNT *

* If necessary

Magic mulls the tough task ahead 05/19/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 10:15pm]
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