Nelson fills hero role for 3-0 Magic

Magic 29 12 25 24 90
Bobcats 27 19 20 20 86
Magic leads series 3-0

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In front of a boisterous, hostile crowd and facing a team in desperation mode, the Magic showcased its depth, grit and poise when it mattered most.

Imagine how good it could be if the team's superstar center played more than half the game.

No Dwight Howard, no problem for the Magic, which got 32 points from sudden star Jameer Nelson to overcome another frustrating, foul-filled game by its big man in a 90-86 victory over the Bobcats on Saturday.

Spoiling Charlotte's return to the playoff stage after an eight-year absence, the Magic took a commanding 3-0 lead in its first-round series despite being without Howard for the final 3:32 after he fouled out.

"You've got to admire them with Dwight getting foul trouble and fouling out how they still didn't fold," Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. "They were disciplined and executed. They got a well-deserved win."

For the third straight game and two days after Orlando was assessed $70,000 in fines for complaining about the officiating, Howard played about half the game, finishing with 13 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks.

After Howard was sidelined for good, Nelson had a key bucket and backup center Marcin Gortat hit two free throws with 12 seconds left.

The defending Eastern Conference champions can clinch a spot in the second round with a win in Game 4 on Monday.

"I think this is a big test for me, learning how to keep my composure in tough situations," said Howard, who has played only 83 of 144 minutes in the series because of foul trouble. "Things may not go my way, but we're playing for something bigger."

Stephen Jackson scored 19 but was 6-for-18 from the field and missed a key 3-pointer in the final minute for the Bobcats, who face the prospect of a first-round sweep in their first playoff appearance.

Nelson, who also scored 32 in the series opener, went 12-for-21 from the field and 5-for-9 on 3-point attempts.

"In this series, when I get in the paint, something good has happened for us," Nelson said. "I just want to stay in attack mode."

ORLANDO (90): Barnes 2-7 2-2 7, Lewis 4-11 4-4 14, Howard 4-7 5-10 13, Nelson 12-21 3-3 32, Carter 4-11 2-2 10, Gortat 1-1 3-4 5, Anderson 2-5 0-0 5, Pietrus 0-3 0-0 0, Redick 2-4 0-0 4, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Bass 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-70 19-25 90.

CHARLOTTE (86): Wallace 4-12 3-6 13, Diaw 3-5 0-0 6, Ratliff 1-1 0-0 2, Felton 5-14 3-3 13, Jackson 6-18 6-7 19, Mohammed 3-6 0-0 6, Thomas 3-6 2-2 8, Augustin 1-6 3-3 5, Hughes 5-6 2-2 14, Chandler 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-74 19-23 86.

3-Point GoalsOrlando 9-30 (Nelson 5-9, Lewis 2-7, Barnes 1-2, Anderson 1-3, Redick 0-2, Pietrus 0-3, Carter 0-4), Charlotte 5-23 (Hughes 2-3, Wallace 2-4, Jackson 1-7, Diaw 0-2, Augustin 0-3, Felton 0-4). Fouled OutHoward. ReboundsOrlando 51 (Howard, Gortat 8), Charlotte 41 (Wallace 8). AssistsOrlando 14 (Lewis, Nelson, Barnes, Howard 3), Charlotte 17 (Felton, Diaw 6). Total FoulsOrlando 25, Charlotte 27. TechnicalsBarnes, Gortat, Howard, Chandler. A19,596.

Blazers even with Suns: Brandon Roy was so antsy to return to the Blazers that he campaigned via text message to coach Nate McMillan.

"Coach, I think I should play," he texted on the eve of Game 4 against the visiting Suns.

Luckily for the Blazers, McMillan agreed.

Roy was activated Saturday then helped host Portland to a 96-87 victory that evened the first-round series at two.

Eight days removed from arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, Roy hit a key 3-pointer late in the game that shifted the momentum to the Blazers.

LaMarcus Aldridge, who had been double-teamed all series long without Roy, benefited the most from his return, with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

"As soon as he checked into the game, I got my first open shot with nobody guarding me, so I was thinking, 'Thank God he's back,' " Aldridge said.

Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 26 points.

at Blazers 26 28 20 22 96
Suns 27 23 22 15 87
Series tied 2-2

PHOENIX (87): Hill 3-10 3-4 9, Stoudemire 9-16 8-10 26, Collins 2-4 0-0 4, Nash 6-11 2-3 15, Richardson 6-16 1-2 15, Frye 3-8 0-0 7, Dudley 1-4 0-0 2, Amundson 0-0 1-2 1, Barbosa 3-5 0-0 8, Dragic 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 33-76 15-21 87.

PORTLAND (96): Batum 3-9 2-2 10, Aldridge 11-19 9-12 31, Camby 4-6 0-0 8, Miller 4-13 7-10 15, Bayless 4-10 2-2 11, Roy 4-10 1-2 10, Webster 0-3 0-0 0, Fernandez 1-3 0-0 3, Howard 4-6 0-0 8. Totals 35-79 21-28 96.

3-Point GoalsPhoenix 6-23 (Barbosa 2-2, Richardson 2-8, Nash 1-3, Frye 1-4, Dragic 0-1, Hill 0-2, Dudley 0-3), Portland 5-14 (Batum 2-5, Roy 1-2, Fernandez 1-2, Bayless 1-3, Miller 0-1, Webster 0-1). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsPhoenix 50 (Hill 12), Portland 50 (Aldridge 11). AssistsPhoenix 17 (Nash 8), Portland 26 (Miller 8). Total FoulsPhoenix 24, Portland 20. TechnicalsPhoenix defensive three second, Batum. Flagrant Fouls—Frye, Bayless. A20,151 (19,980).

Bucks trim Hawks' lead: John Salmons scored 22 on 9-for-11 shooting and the host Bucks never let up after a hot start in a 107-89 victory over the Hawks.

The Bucks shot 68 percent in the first quarter and 51 percent for the game after a three-day layoff and were never seriously threatened after building a 19-point, first-half lead.

Atlanta still leads the series 2-1 after two double-digit victories at home, when the Bucks looked overmatched without injured Andrew Bogut.

But veteran Kurt Thomas had eight points, 13 rebounds and four stitches, rookie Brandon Jennings added 13 points, and Milwaukee proved that the Hawks may have to "Fear the Deer" after all.

Joe Johnson scored 25 for Atlanta.

at Bucks 36 16 26 29 107
Hawks 19 21 17 32 89
Hawks lead series 2-1

ATLANTA (89): Williams 1-7 5-6 8, Jos.Smith 2-12 3-6 7, Horford 5-9 0-0 10, Bibby 3-9 0-0 6, Johnson 9-22 6-7 25, Crawford 5-13 0-0 11, Evans 0-2 0-0 0, J. Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Pachulia 6-7 4-6 16, West 1-2 0-0 2, Teague 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 34-87 18-25 89.

MILWAUKEE (107): Delfino 2-9 0-0 6, Mbah a Moute 5-7 2-2 12, Thomas 4-4 0-0 8, Jennings 5-11 0-0 13, Salmons 9-11 3-3 22, Stackhouse 3-11 8-8 16, Gadzuric 1-3 0-0 2, Ilyasova 4-8 2-3 11, Ridnour 5-11 0-0 11, Bell 0-1 0-0 0, Brezec 2-2 0-0 4, Ivey 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 41-80 15-16 107.

3-Point GoalsAtlanta 3-15 (Williams 1-1, Johnson 1-4, Crawford 1-5, Evans 0-1, West 0-1, Bibby 0-3), Milwaukee 10-23 (Jennings 3-6, Stackhouse 2-5, Delfino 2-6, Salmons 1-1, Ridnour 1-2, Ilyasova 1-3). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsAtlanta 53 (Jos.Smith 12), Milwaukee 47 (Thomas 13). AssistsAtlanta 16 (Crawford, Johnson 4), Milwaukee 23 (Salmons 7). Total FoulsAtlanta 13, Milwaukee 22. A18,717 (18,717).

Jazz seize edge: Paul Millsap had career highs of 22 points and 19 rebounds, rallying the host Jazz to a 105-93 win over the Nuggets in Game 3 of their Western Conference series late Friday. The Jazz lead the series 2-1 after limiting Carmelo Anthony to 25 points and flustering him into five fouls.

Nelson fills hero role for 3-0 Magic 04/25/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 6:17pm]

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