"I've seen some great shooting shows in my life, but that was incredible."
That's about the only way to describe what Eddie House did to the Orlando Magic Wednesday night. Incredible... and just plain wrong. And that's coming from the losing coach, Stan Van Gundy, after House drowned the Magic, 112-94.
"Eddie House was unbelievable," Van Gundy said. "The change in the game -- the difference -- was Eddie House's speed and quickness."
What speed and quickness earn an off-the-ball player like House -- along with screens and ball movement -- is the opportunity to shoot. You've still got to make them. And make them he did, tying his career-high with 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-4 from beyond the arc. It was a performance that ignited a team, demoralized an opponent and nearly caused the Garden crowd to spontaneously combust like the drummer of Spinal Tap.
It was a display that was everything that Game 1 was not, and it's the primary reason the Celtics are headed to Orlando tied 1-1, rather than in a two-game hole.
"We knew we came out and were half-stepping in the first half of the last game," House said. "We needed to come with that same energy, so I think everybody just dug down deep and did what we needed to do."
Not only that, he neutralized, in just 27 minutes, what the Magic do best: score from downtown. The Magic scored 24 points from beyond the arc on 19 attempts, just one make less than in their Game 1 win, but the difference was that with their inability to score inside, House was matching their bread and butter shot-for-shot.
Eventually, as the Celtics' lead grew and the Magic lost their fight, frustration at seeing House nail every jumper imaginable -- not to mention off some mammoth picks by Boston big men -- set in.
"Your coach has been belaboring the point to you: 'You cannot let this guy get shots,'" Doc Rivers said. "Every time Eddie made a shot, I'm sure Coach Van Gundy was screaming at someone, because that's what [Eddie] does."
With under a minute to play in the third and the Celtics leading by more than 20, House deposited one trey over the outstretched arm of Rafer Alston. As the players ran down the floor, contact was made -- including Alston slapping the back of House's head -- and a double technical was assessed.
"I have no hard feelings toward Eddie, I have a lot of respect for him," Alston said after the game. "But when you're having a good night, kicking our behinds, he shot the elbow at me, in my stomach, it was just a natural reaction."
Whatever occurred between the players, it was clear that by that point, the most painful thing for the Magic was watching House dominate as though he were shooting into an Olympic-sized swimming pool. And, as if by some unspoken rule, the Celtics made sure the ball ended up in his hands the next time down the court. Curling off a screen. Toes behind the line. Splash.