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Saturday, May 09, 2009

NBA playoffs 2009 and Superman

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Orlando Magic seems to be at its best when it’s shorthanded.

Dwight Howard had 17 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks as Orlando beat Boston 117-96 on Friday night for a 2-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal.

Rashard Lewis had 28 points, and Hedo Turkoglu scored 24 for Orlando, which played without starting point guard Rafer Alston. He was suspended by the NBA for slapping Eddie House in the back of the head in Game 2.

Paul Pierce broke out of his series slump to score 27 points, and Rajon Rondo added 15 for the defending champion Celtics, who trimmed a 20-point deficit to seven before the Magic regained control.

Game 4 is Sunday in Orlando.

It’s the second time this postseason the Magic won with a starter suspended.

Howard lost his cool and elbowed Samuel Dalembert in the head to draw a suspension for Game 6 of their first-round series against Philadelphia — but Orlando still eliminated the 76ers with a blowout.

This time, the Magic’s big man made sure a teammate wasn’t missed.

The defensive player of the year had four blocks in the first half to turn the Celtics into a jumpshooting team, much as the Magic did to win Game 1. On the first play of the second quarter, Howard soared so high he had to brace his left hand against the backboard so he wouldn’t smack his head, swatting Stephon Marbury’s layup into the stands.

It was no different on offense.

Howard sprinted down the middle of the lane; took a pass from the wing by J.J. Redick; and gripped the ball with two hands for a thunderous dunk and 43-31 lead. The Magic would eventually by 14 points in the period.

The Magic took a 20-point lead early in the third quarter before Howard picked up his fourth foul, and the Celtics ended the period on a 12-2 run capped by a breakaway dunk by Rondo.

After Boston trimmed the deficit to seven in the fourth, center Kendrick Perkins lost his cool. Perkins was called for a flagrant one foul with 10:15 to play for an elbow on Mickael Pietrus. Replays showed Perkins’ elbow hit Pietrus in the chin while the two battled for position away from the ball.

Pietrus made the free throws, and the Magic built another 20-point lead that put the game out of reach.

by the associated press

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