David West and Roy Hibbert
After shocking the Indiana Pacers in Game 1, the Orlando Magic have been eliminated from the 2012 NBA playoffs after dropping four consecutive, including Tuesday night's 105-87 loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers' depth and length in the frontcourt proved to much for Stan Van Gundy and the Howard-less Magic to handle.
The Pacers, essentially, dominated this best-of-seven series after their disheartening opening-night loss. While Orlando's lone win was quite impressive, as the realm of professional basketball counted this squad out from the beginning, the Magic were unable to find the spark captured in Game 1.
Indiana would win both Games 2 and 3 in convincing fashion, but Game 4 was not only the most important win for the Pacers, but the most exciting. After blowing a massive lead in the fourth quarter, the Pacers were forced to go into overtime against an undersized Orlando squad, where the Magic would ultimately be hit with a crippling defeat.
The combination of high-octane scorer Danny Granger, who was quite consistent throughout the five games, and bruiser David West, a nightmare matchup every single night, proved to be lethal. Then, add in the clutch George Hill, 7'2" behemoth Roy Hibbert, lanky small forward Paul George, and electrifying guards Leonardo Barbosa and Darren Collison, and you have the deepest team in the entire Eastern Conference.
Game 5 progressed much like the rest of the playoff series games, as the Magic went down early and had to crawl back in the later minutes. However, the team was unable to capitalize on their early second-half lead and were outscored 36-16 in the fourth.
Danny Granger led the advancing squad with 25 points off 8-of-20 shooting from the field. Darren Collison, however, was the true star in the series closer, as the speedy point guard facilitated the offense beautifully and recorded 19 points and six assists off the bench.
For Orlando, former All-Star Jameer Nelson contributed 27 points, four rebounds and five assists to the Magic's losing effort. The power forward duo of Ryan Anderson and Glen Davis combined for 29 points.
The Magic should not bow their heads in disappointment, however, as the No. 6 seeds proved that this disrespected roster is capable of contending with the league's elite.
The Magic show that there is, and was, a legitimate squad around Howard this entire 2011-12 season. They do, though, enter the offseason with numerous questions, including the futures of All-NBA talent Dwight Howard and polarizing Coach Van Gundy with the organization.
Let's recap Game 5 in Indiana.
Pacers beat writer Mike Wells praises Darren Collison for his fantastic performance:
Hell of a second half by Collison. He's got 15 off the bench. Indy's up 13 and 2:59 from heading to South Beach more than likely.— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNBA) May 9, 2012
MSG Network's Knicks studio analyst Alan Hahn shows the excitement in the Pacers arena:
Pacers fans chanting "Beat the Heat" as Indiana closes out series vs Magic.— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) May 9, 2012
Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com is impressed with Nelson's contributions:
Who the heck cloned 2009 Jameer Nelson???— Earl K. Sneed (@EKS_MavsNBA) May 9, 2012
Leonardo Barbosa with the spectacular drive.
Great hustle exhibited by center Roy Hibbert.
Grades for Indiana
Danny Granger: A
Danny Granger, once again, dominated the opposing swingmen by scoring 25 points, with most of them in the closing minutes.
While he will have his hands full in their second-round matchup, as he will most likely be matched up with LeBron James against the Miami Heat, Granger found no trouble filling up the stat sheet versus the Magic.
Darren Collison: A+
What a night for Darren Collison!
The former UCLA Bruin's athleticism allowed him to penetrate to the basket with relative ease. The 6'0" PG helped the Pacers with 19 points and six assists in just 24 minutes of action off the bench.
David West: B
A quiet night for physically-gifted David West, considering his astounding averages in this series. The veteran didn't accomplish a double-double, as he only scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but his leadership was vital throughout the five games.
Grades for Orlando
Jameer Nelson: A
Jameer Nelson, to say it simply, played exceptionally well. It was a valiant effort from the veteran guard that showed much character.
His 27 points kept the Magic in the exhibition match.
Glen Davis: B-
Not a great game for the former Boston Celtics sixth man, but Glen "Big Baby" Davis, like Jameer Nelson, helped keep his team in the game.
Davis added 15 points and eight rebounds.
Game MVP: Danny Granger
While Darren Collison was the star in Tuesday night's action, Danny Granger deserves the MVP nods. As captain of this talented squad, Granger's leadership and scoring were vital in their "gentleman's sweep."
The Indiana Pacers will wait for the conclusion of the Knicks-Heat series. The Magic, on the other hand, face an offseason filled with uncertainty.