Playoff Postmortem: Orlando Tragic

Jameer Nelson and the Magic get to suffer another first
round exit in the NBA Playoffs.
(image by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

From Magic to Tragic.

I remember a time when the Orlando Magic figured in the conversation, together with Chicago, Miami and Boston, about the prospective team that could come out of the East and challenge for the NBA Championship.

Now, literally and figuratively, they’ve been replaced by the Indiana Pacers – those overachievers who have no business going into a second round Playoff encounter against the deep and dark Miami Heat (as of this writing, the Heat just clobbered the Knicks in Game 5).

But the Pacers’ success is for another time.

This time, let’s talk about the Magic’s failure.

It’s funny if you’re a Magic fan.

This past season saw Dwight Howard defying almost everyone’s expectations by sticking with Orlando. Well, for one year at least.

At the same time, however, this past season saw how Dwight Howard became not just the focal point of Orlando’s on-court play, but also the embodiment of its off-court struggles.

Howard’s dilly-dallying and bouts of teeny-bopper schizophrenia regarding his relationship with Orlando’s management and coaching staff has hampered and distracted the Magic so much so that they dropped off the East’s Top 4 – the first time after making Top 4 in 5 straight years.

And now they’ve been booted out of the first round the second year running.

What happened here?

They stopped listening to the only man who really gives a damn about winning – Stan Van Gundy.

Why? Because, and he won’t admit it because he’s probably the most self-conscious 7-footer on the planet, Dwight Howard will be happy when that happens.

Now that he's on board for one more year Dwight Howard is
confident Orlando will do whatever it takes to keep him happy.
(image by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Of course, Dwight also wouldn’t mind if the Magic get a top-flight PG. Apparently, Jameer Nelson isn’t top-flight enough.

Here’s a guy complaining about to the high heavens about not getting help so he can get the crown he’s entitled to.

Or at least he sounds like one.

So when November comes along, Dwight will still be in a Magic uniform. I’m not so sure about Nelson. I’m not expecting SVG to be back.

But at least Dwight will be happy.

Happy in his tragic kingdom.

And change what you read earlier if you’re a Magic fan.

You shouldn’t find it funny after all.

Boo hoo.

Game Recaps:

IND over ORL, 105-87
Darren Collison scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter Tuesday and the Indiana Pacers pulled away for a 105-87 victory over the Orlando Magic to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2005. Indiana will play the winner of the series between the Miami Heat and New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Danny Granger added 25 points for Indiana, while George Hill had 15, David West contributed 12 with eight rebounds and Roy Hibbert finished with 11 points and seven boards in Game 5. Jameer Nelson connected on 5-of-8 three-pointers en route to a game-high 27 points to go along with five assists for the Magic, who won the first game of the series before dropping the next four.

ATL over BOS, 87-86
Al Horford and Josh Smith shook off injuries and posted double-doubles to keep the Atlanta Hawks' season alive with a hard- fought 87-86 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Horford, battling through a still-bothersome pectoral injury that caused him to miss most of the regular season, totaled 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Smith chipped in 13 and 16 despite dealing with a sore knee. Smith nearly threw away a chance to seal the win when his inbounds pass with 10.9 seconds remaining was stolen by Rajon Rondo. Down by one, Rondo pushed the ball up the court and dribbled into the left corner. Smith and Horford switched defensive responsibilities, and Horford disrupted Rondo's dribble as time wound down. By the time Rondo recovered and threw to Kevin Garnett at the top of the key, Smith tipped the ball away as the buzzer sounded, pulling the Hawks within 3-2 of a series that continues Thursday back in Boston.

CHI over PHI, 77-69
The shorthanded Chicago Bulls avoided elimination on Tuesday, riding a strong defensive effort to a 77-69 win over the 76ers in Game 5 of their first-round series. The Bulls, playing without star point guard Derrick Rose and starting center Joakim Noah, limited Philadelphia to just 32.1 percent shooting. Luol Deng made four three-pointers and led Chicago with 24 points while Carlos Boozer added 19 points and 13 rebounds. The 76ers had won three straight in the series since a Game 1 loss, which saw Rose go down for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. They still lead the series 3-2 and can become just the fifth No. 8 seed in NBA history to knock off a No. 1 seed with a win in Game 6 on Thursday in Philadelphia. Jrue Holiday scored a team-high 16 points on 5-of-17 shooting in the loss.

Carlos Boozer and the undermanned Chicago Bulls
get to live and fight another day.
(image by Nam Y. Huh/AP)
DEN over LAL, 102-99
The Denver Nuggets can breathe a sigh of relief. Kobe Bryant went on an offensive onslaught in the fourth quarter, and with his team trailing by as many as 15 in the final frame, Bryant had a chance to tie the contest with a three-pointer in the waning seconds, but his shot from the left wing was too strong. Following a Steve Blake offensive rebound, Ramon Sessions then had an opportunity to send the game into overtime, but his right-wing trey clanged off the rim and the Nuggets escaped and staved off elimination with a 102-99 triumph in Game 5 of this Western Conference first-round series. Andre Miller scored 17 of his 24 points in the second half to pace Denver, which heads back to the Pepsi Center for a Game 6 on Thursday. Bryant netted 14 of his 43 points in the fourth.

*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Associated Press and the Sports Network.
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