Savage: Magic's Roller Coaster Ride Continues in Game 4

By Dan Savage
May 5, 2012

ORLANDO -- There are a lot of fitting comparisons for the Orlando Magic’s 2011-12 campaign.

You could call it a roller coaster ride, a stock market or a yo-yo. Basically, if the metaphor relates to a series of ups and downs it fits, right on the money.

The Magic’s Game 4 against the Pacers fit this equation with utmost perfection.

There was the electric energy to start the contest, followed by a sluggish beginning to the second half. Then, there was the thrilling 19-point fourth-quarter comeback, which was tarnished by George Hill’s game-winning go-ahead free throws with 2.2 seconds left in overtime that came courtesy of a close foul call on Jameer Nelson.

“The emotion now is devastation,” said J.J. Redick, who led the fourth-quarter charge with five points, six assists and an inspiring energy level. “It hurts to lose a game like that.”

There were other highs, such as Redick’s game-tying triple with 34.7 seconds left in regulation, and lows, like Jameer Nelson’s missed opportunity to win the game at the end of regulation and Glen Davis’ short jumper at the buzzer that would have forced a second overtime.

“I got a great shot off, it was just short,” Davis explained. “It was up there, just short. Two more inches or one more inch and overtime would have ended and we would have celebrated.”

But the most deflating part of Orlando’s Game 4 home loss is the harsh reality that the Pacers now own a commanding 3-1 lead with the series shifting back to Indiana.

“Going back to Indiana we definitely don’t want to be down 3-1,” said Jason Richardson, who fired off a team-high 25 points. “Just got our work cut out for us.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge now will be refocusing on the task at hand, avoid playing the “What-If?” game and looking past the daunting hurdle of a 3-1 series deficit.

“We have to go out there (in Game 5) and play our best game yet,” Nelson explained.

Only eight teams in league history have bounced back from a 3-1 series hole and advanced to the following round. The Magic will attempt to become the ninth.

“It’s 3-1 and it’s a matter of mindset and whether you think you’re still in the series or not,” Orlando Head Coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Based on what they did down 19 points today, my guess is that they’re not going to quit on anything. They will come out and play on Tuesday night damn hard and very well.”

The reality of the situation is that the Magic's chances of completing a series comeback are slim.

However, if Orlando's season has taught us anything, it's to expect the unexpected.

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