Cohen Courtside: Magic vs. Pacers Game 4 (5/5/12)

By Josh Cohen
May 5, 2012

In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.


ORLANDO -- On one hand, it was an unforgettable comeback. In the moment, it was an exchange worth accepting: Anxiety for something potentially epic.

On the other hand, after the final buzzer sounded and the scoreboard indicated the Indiana Pacers had squeezed out an overtime victory, you couldn’t help but feel teased and deluded.

While the Orlando Magic were approaching something historic, it was only practical to reminisce every phase from this drama-fueled season.

While clutch shots were repeatedly made down the stretch in regulation and OT, all of the facets raced through each of our minds.

From the Dwight Howard trade request during training camp to all the ambiguity regarding No. 12’s future in a Magic uniform to his enthralling decision to not opt out of his contract and stay in Orlando to the sudden back injury to the commotion that stemmed from Stan Van Gundy’s remarks about his coaching future in Orlando to the announcement that D12 would need surgery and be out for the season, it all looped in our heads like they were tracks on our iPod.

As only a sports fan would, you began to think that the compilation of all the side attractions would miraculously lead to something extraordinary on the court.

But unfortunately, that’s just not how sports work. At the end of the day, the team that comes up with the biggest shots and plays prevails.

Yes, the Magic delivered a performance that spoke loudly about their heart, courage and determination. They let it all out on the floor and that’s all you could ask of a team that doesn’t have their superstar with them.

Sure, we can argue and resent the dubious foul call that sent George Hill to the line for two free throws with 2.2 seconds left in OT. Some refs will call that in that instance, others won’t. That’s just the way it goes.

Jameer Nelson was a little off-balanced in his shot attempt to win it in regulation, while Glen Davis had a pretty reasonable look on the turnaround as time expired in the extra session.

There is no such thing as moral victories in professional sports, especially in the playoffs. But we have to applaud the effort. The Magic could have quit, but instead they scratched and clawed.

The series isn’t over, but perhaps reality is starting to sink in.

Only eight teams in league history have erased a 3-1 deficit and advanced. This is the arduous mission the Magic must embrace as they return to Indianapolis for Game 5.

Without Howard and against an opponent that has so much size and strength inside, the Magic’s attempt to win a series via fortitude and spirit is probably not enough.

That’s what we have learned in these past three games.

While Orlando is playing with tremendous effort and determination, this component of the game is just a slice of many constituents to prevailing in a seven-game series.

The Pacers are a good team. They are in the face of their opponents on nearly every possession and they flourish in the paint because of their enormous size up front.

David West is a first-class power forward with a variety of moves in the post, Roy Hibbert, while substandard offensively, is a monster because of his shot-blocking ability and Indiana’s perimeter players like Danny Granger and Paul George are exceptionally taller than most players at their positions.

You get the feeling that if Howard were here, Orlando would win this series. The Magic’s flaw is the Pacers’ strong suit and there is no way to capsize that.

The Magic are down to their final strike. But maybe the NBA is do for something mind-blowing and Orlando is the right place for it to happen.

Do you think the Magic will win Game 5?
Do you think the Magic will win Game 5?
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