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News » Magic don't pull disappearing act

Magic don't pull disappearing act

Magic don't pull disappearing act BOSTON -- Set aside the "what ifs" from last year and Kevin Garnett's knee injury. Those don't matter. They didn't matter then and they don't matter now.

What matters is the evolution of the Orlando Magic. It wasn't too long ago they were just Superman and Company, riding Dwight Howard's coattails. Look it's a bird, no a plane, no it's a missed jump hook in the lane.

For a team that went to the NBA Finals last spring, Orlando came into the season with plenty of details still to be hammered out and questions to be answered. Well, it looks like they're getting the right answers. They sure did last night.

Orlando came into the TD Garden, pounced all over the Celtics in the first quarter, and then Magic fought through struggles to grab an 83-78 victory.

The Magic waved good-bye to forward Hedo Turkoglu in the off-season. What exactly did they lose? Oh just a 6-foot-10 small forward with 3-point range (36 percent shooter last season), scoring ability (16.8 points per game), and a point guard's sense of how to distribute the Basketball (4.9 assists per game).

They replaced him with the soon to be 33-year-old Vince Carter. That swap had to raise a few eyebrows if not blood pressures in Disney World. It probably also elicited some sighs of relief in the Boston area.

After all, when last Celtics fans saw Turkoglu he torched the Celtics with a steady does of the pick and roll in Game 7 of the conference semifinals. Turkoglu sent Boston home for the summer with a 25-point, 12-assist, five-rebound performance.

You'd think those were some large shoes to fill. Right? Shoes beyond the means of an aging former human highlight machine named Vince Carter. Right? And even if he did fill the shoes, he'd likely alter Orlando's entire offensive approach. Right?


Carter showed his value last night as he scored 26 points and dished out six assists. He also assumed the role as the closer, making the shots down the stretch to preserve the win.

"You need to have a guy," Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said. "A Paul Pierce, a Vince Carter, a Dwyane Wade, someone who can get a shot against great defense."

OK, but the Magic still had to show they could deal with adversity. After all, midway through the playoff series last year, the Magic seemed like they were in disarray. Howard called out his coach in a post-game press conference for not getting him the ball in crunch time after they blew a large lead.

If last night gave any indication, the Magic are much more ready to deal with ups and downs than they were last year. Without the help its all-star point guard Jameer Nelson, who will miss the next four to six weeks, they overcame a pitiful second quarter (14 points on 22 percent shooting from the field) to hold on.

They also showed their offense can function without big contributions from the big man in the middle. Howard attempted just four shots. Just four. And not only did the Magic win, they scored when they needed to score. Remember, Boston tied the score with 2:54 left.

"We're a defensive team," Garnett said. "We (hang) our hat on it (defense). And for some reason we haven't been getting stops. This (Orlando) is a very deep team, a different team. They have a lot of shooters. Of course, the pick and roll with Dwight is very difficult, but we prepared for it. We just couldn't get over that edge. We couldn't get over that hump, and we've got to do a better job with that."

The road to the Eastern Conference title doesn't run through Boston or through Cleveland. It runs through Orlando. And while the commercials tell us the Celtics "reloaded," the Magic reconstructed. Reconstruction definitely agrees with them.

Lynn Worthy's e-mail address is lworthy@lowellsun.com

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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 22, 2009


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