Even Tiger Woods had to be impressed.
The best golfer on the planet had a courtside seat Sunday at Amway Arena in Orlando, watching along with 17,460 others as the home Magic picked apart the Philadelphia 76ers in Game One of the teams' first-round playoff series. Orlando, powered by another all-world performance from Dwight Howard, turned a four-point halftime lead into an 18-point bulge with 1:12 left in the third quarter.
The Magic seemed poised to cruise to a 1-0 series advantage.
But 13 minutes of game time later, Andre Iguodala’s 18-foot fading jumper swished through the net with two seconds to play, giving the 76ers their first lead of the second half, 100-98. When Hedo Turkoglu missed a left-wing three pointer at the buzzer, Philadelphia’s comeback was complete, leaving Orlando and its fans, including Tiger, in disbelief.
So how did the 76ers go from down 18 to up two in a little more than a quarter of action?
Simply put, the 76ers caught fire from floor, with Lou Williams’ athletic play and Donyell Marshall’s sweet shooting fueling the Philadelphia run before Iguodala’s heroics.
When Howard made two free throws to push Orlando’s lead to 79-61 late in the third, the 76ers were shooting 42 percent. Thaddeus Young and Williams then made short jumpers before the quarter ended at the start of the comeback.
In the fourth, Philadelphia shot an incredible 14-for-19, shooting 76 percent (coincidence?) in the game’s final 13 minutes, (16-for-21) running up 39 points. The 76ers also took care of the basketball, turning the ball over just twice in the fourth.
Williams and Marshall, both bench players, combined for 21 points during the comeback, with Marshall scoring all of his 11 points in the final frame. Marshall, in his 14th season, also hit two huge three pointers in the game’s final minutes, including one that tied the game at 98 with 34 seconds left.
Iguodala also stayed confident throughout the fourth. With his team trailing 96-95 with 1:07 left, Iguodala missed two crucial free throws. He obviously atoned for those misses by nailing the game-winner over Turkolgu’s outstretched hands.
Orlando, on the other hand, went cold in the fourth after shooting 54 percent in the game’s first three quarters. The Magic shot just 35 percent (7-for-20) during the Philadelphia run and turned the ball over five times in the fourth. After scoring 25, 25, and 29 points in the first three quarters, respectively, Orlando scored 19 in the fourth.
While Howard led the Magic with seven points in the fourth quarter, he didn't have much help. Courtney Lee had a nice playoff debut with 18 points, but he went scoreless in the fourth, missing two shots.
Philadelphia caught fire and Orlando lost its touch. Game One went to the 76ers, and it came with stunning disappointment to the Magic.
So even Woods, who knows a thing or two about dramatic comebacks, had to be impressed.
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