Denton: Magic Won't Quit Despite 3-1 Deficit

By John Denton
May 6, 2012

ORLANDO – Stan Van Gundy is one who usually prefers to deal in realities instead of hypotheticals and predictions, but the Orlando Magic coach had an educated guess as to how his team would respond to Saturday’s crushing overtime loss in Game 4.

``Based on what we did when we were down 19 points (on Saturday), my guess is they’re not going to quit on anything,’’ Van Gundy said emphatically. ``They will come out and play on Tuesday, damn hard and very well.’’

It was probably a good thing that the Magic had the day off on Sunday because they had to try and pick up the pieces following their 101-99 overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers. The defeat dropped the Magic into a 3-1 hole in the series, and only eight teams in history have come back to win those seven-game series.

What made the loss especially difficult to deal with for the Magic was the fact that they battled back from 19 points down in the final eight minutes of regulation and from a six-point hole in overtime. The Magic tied the game in regulation on a clutch 3-pointer by J.J. Redick and tied it three more times in the extra period on layups by Jameer Nelson and Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis.

But the Magic lost in frustrating fashion when Indiana point guard George Hill drew a whistle with 2.2 seconds remaining and buried two free throws for the deciding points. Davis missed a spinning jump shot at the buzzer, leaving the Magic with a loss and little to show for their furious comebacks.

Afterward, the disappointed feelings were raw and frayed.

``The emotion now is devastation,’’ admitted Redick, who carried the Magic offensively down the stretch with his playmaking (six fourth-quarter assists) and his clutch 3-pointer over Indiana’s Paul George. ``It hurts to lose a game like that.’’

Game 5 is Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Indiana’s Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Despite the daunting odds that they now face, the Magic head to Indiana knowing full well that they can win in Indiana. The Magic stole a Game 1 victory in Indiana by scoring the final 11 points to wipe out a seven-point deficit. And before losing Game 2, the Magic had won six straight times in Indiana, including twice during the regular season.

Those wins, of course, were with Dwight Howard manning the middle for the Magic. Howard is out for the season following back surgery, leaving the Magic with little margin for error in the series against the heavily favored Pacers. The Magic know that the series would likely be dramatically different with Howard affecting possessions on both ends of the floor, but that’s not something that they want to contemplate now on the verge of elimination.

``That’s just not something that I care to address to be honest with you,’’ Redick said, when asked how the Magic would have fared in this series with Howard. ``My pastor told me a year ago that I shouldn’t worry about hypotheticals, so I’m not going to worry about that.’’

What the Magic have to worry about is finding a way to play with the same energy and sense of urgency that they used to get back into Saturday’s game. Trailing 82-63 with 8:04 to play, Van Gundy moved Hedo Turkoglu to power forward and Jason Richardson to small forward, while inserting Redick at shooting guard.

Redick was somewhat irked about playing just 6 minutes in the first three quarters, and he made the most of getting back into the game down the stretch. The Magic used a 14-0 run and closed regulation with a 26-7 burst to get the game tied. During one stretch of seven Magic baskets, Redick assisted on five of them out of pick-and-roll plays.

``We talked about still having a lot of time and it was just a matter of us making plays to get back into it,’’ Redick said. ``We got the ball moving and a lot of it was us not having to go against their set defense. We played a little quicker, got Glen rolling and J-Rich got some looks from the outside.’’

Davis, who was crushed my missing the potential game-tying shot at the end of overtime, said the Magic might have just learned how they have to play against the Pacers to be successful. Their hope, of course, is that they didn’t wait too long to figure it out.

``If we played like that the whole series we might be up right now,’’ Davis said of the Magic’s comebacks. ``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.’’

Now, the Magic must go to Indiana and find a way to win to extend their season. Van Gundy has a theory that if a team is merely playing for pride or trying to win a game they will fold when times get tough. But if there’s a belief that the team can still win the series, they will fight through anything. Richardson said the Magic will head into Game 5 knowing they can still do something special in this series.

``We have to come back (on Tuesday) and play like we did (on Saturday),’’ said Richardson, who had a nice bounce-back game with 25 points. ``Our starters did a great job after not playing well the last two games with much energy. You go into this next game knowing that no matter what the series is, we have to go there and play hard. We can’t let their fans get into it. Definitely, we want to go up there and win.’’

John Denton writes for John has covered the Magic since 1997 and recently authored ``All You Can Be’’ with Magic center Dwight Howard. E-mail John at

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