Denton's Dish: Magic vs. Pacers Game 4 (5/5/12)
By John Denton
May 5, 2012
ORLANDO – After 53 minutes of fighting back from a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter and also clawing out of a six-point hole in overtime, the Orlando Magic’s fate was determined on Saturday by a referee’s whistle.
When Jameer Nelson was whistled for a controversial hand-check foul with 2.2 seconds remaining, it all Indiana’s George Hill to hit two go-ahead free throws. The Magic missed a chance to tie in overtime – just as it came up short on a potential game-winner at the end of regulation – and they were left with the empty feeling of a 101-99 OT loss to the Pacers.
The Magic were understandably crushed by a referee’s call that essentially dropped then in to a 3-1 hole with the best-of-series now shifting back to Indiana’s home court. Even as they trailed 82-63 with 8:14 to play, the Magic refused to give up and gamely got the game tied. Similarly, they did it again in overtime, trying the game at 99-all on Glen ``Big Baby’’ spin move as he was falling down.
Then, came the whistle from referee Violet Palmer. Nelson’s right hand was on Hill’s hip and his left arm got pinned under Hill’s arm. That call decided a game where there were three lead changes and eight ties on the day.
``Just playing basketball, you hate to see that. You want to see somebody hit a shot instead of a foul like that,’’ said Magic guard Jason Richardson, who had 25 points and four 3-pointers. ``The ref saw the call. But you definitely want the other team to (have to) make the shot and not get to the free throw line.’’
Added Nelson: ``The refs made the call and they thought it was a foul. Obviously, they didn’t see the hook (by Hill) first. But it is what it is. They called the foul and he made the free throws.’’
The Magic had a chance to force a second overtime period in the final seconds. Head coach Stan van Gundy originally drew up a play for Richardson to get a 3-pointer from the top of the key, but the Pacers denied the pass. Instead, the ball went in to Davis, whose 15-foot fade-away jumper came up just short and deflated the Magic.
``I got a great shot off, but it was just short. It was on line,’’ said Davis, who had 16 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. ``It was right there, but it was just short. If it was up an inch or two more we might be playing more overtimes or celebrating right now.’’
The Magic are now facing some daunting odds as they prepare for Game 5 in Indianapolis on Tuesday. Only eight teams in playoff history have climbed out of a 3-1 hole. Despite losing three straight games in the series, the Magic know they can win in Indy, having done so in dramatic fashion in Game 1.
``It’s 3-1 and it’s a matter of mindset and whether you think you’re still in the series or not,’’ Van Gundy said. ``Based on what (the Magic) did down 19 points today, my guess is they’re not going to quit on anything. They will come out and play on Tuesday, damn hard and very well.’’
The Magic missed their best opportunity to even the series when Nelson couldn’t convert in the final seconds of regulation. Nelson drove hard to his left to shake Leandro Barbosa, spun back to his right and faded for a shot that came up just short. Nelson (12 points) was just four of 15 on the day, but did hand out 11 assists.
``I felt like I got the guy off of me and got my space, but I just missed the shot,’’ Nelson said. ``I’ll do the same thing next game if the opportunity presents itself. I have confidence in myself to make the shot.’’
Here is a look at some of the key moments from Saturday’s Game 4 at the Amway Center:
Van Gundy went to a smaller lineup, putting Hedo Turkoglu (11 points) at power forward, Richardson at small forward and J.J. Redick at shooting guard. Orlando promptly ripped off 14 straight points – with 10 of the points coming off layups set up by Redick’s play in pick-and-roll sets.
Redick, who finished with 10 points and seven assists, had five points and six assists in the fourth quarter alone. His biggest moment of the night came when he shook Paul George and drilled a tying 3-pointer with 38 seconds left in regulation.
``If we played like that the whole series we might be up right now,’’ Davis said of the Magic’s furious comeback from 19 points down. ``Every loose ball we were on, every rebound, every box out, every defensive e possession – we haven’t played like that since the first game. There was a sense of urgency. Our backs were against the wall and we fought extremely hard. That’s playoff basketball.’’
Richardson played his best basketball since the end of Game 1 when he drilled consecutive 3-pointers to vault the Magic into the lead. Forced to look for his shots with Chris Duhon, Earl Clark and Daniel Orton on the floor, Richardson responded with 11 points in the first half. Nelson also played well with seven points, four assists and three rebounds in 17 turnover-free minutes.
``We just didn’t want to give up, no matter how much we were down,’’ Richardson said. ``We had our backs to the wall and just had to start swinging the ball. We made some shots and got the pick-and-roll going. It’s just hard in the NBA when you are always fighting from behind and using all of your energy to come back. WE played great today and had a shot at the end, but it didn’t go in.’’
The Magic went 8 minutes, 45 seconds without a field goal. During that stretch they went from up six (16-10) to trailing by 11 points (34-23). The Magic had all seven of their turnovers in the first half during that nearly 9-minute drought. They also missed nine consecutive shots.
Reserve point guard Chris Duhon struggled mightily against the defensive pressure of Darren Collison. He turned the ball over twice and another bobble led to an 8-second turnover that brought out boos from the fans.
Indiana finished the quarter with an 18-7 spurt to push its lead to 73-61 by the start of the fourth quarter. West made six of nine shots and scored 12 points in the third quarter alone.
``We’re just trying to be aggressive,’’ said West, who finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds. ``We have a feeling no matter what the score is we can impose our will on them. We feel like we hit the floor running to start the third quarter.’’
``I thought we actually had the lead at the end of overtime,’’ Van Gundy said. ``I thought Glen had the three-point play on that dish to the rim. I thought he got fouled, but they saw it differently. That would have changed the game if he goes up and makes the free throw. (The Pacers) may still score at the end, but they can’t hold for one shot. It would have been a big change. I was really excited when (Davis) got (the basket) because I thought he got fouled and we had (the lead).’’
``Nobody hung their head tonight when we were down and it showed,’’ Nelson said. ``We never gave up and nobody felt sorry for themselves. We kept fighting and that’s basically what we’ve been doing this whole season. We have to go (to Indiana) and play our best game. We can’t worry about any other game because that’s the only game that matters now.’’
John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at firstname.lastname@example.org
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