Prior to their fourth quarter run the Celtics were playing stagnant and, at times sloppy. The offense did not come together until Stephon Marbury earned his pro-rated veteran's minimum salary with a 7 minute fourth quarter explosion.
Marbury was inserted into the line-up midway thru the third quarter when Rajon Rondo (6 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) picked up his fourth foul. Boston trailed by 14 points with less then nine minutes remaining, the line-up was House, Marbury, Davis, Scalabrine, and (a non factor) Ray Allen.
Stephon Marbury then scored 12 points in the next 7 minutes igniting the Celtics offense and the Garden crowd. The second unit could not get consecutive defensive stops however, as the Magic
answered every basket. The best run the second unit could provide was 7-0 and the Magic countered every time. This forced Doc Rivers to (begrudgingly) go back to his first unit down 10 point with 5:39 remaining to play.
Stephon did what the second unit is supposed to do, excite and rejuvenate the 1st unit as they re-enter the game.
Over the final 5:39 the starters returned and so did the Celtics trademark defense. In the last 5 minutes the Celtics defense forced two Turnovers and five missed shots by the Magic.
The Celtics offense continued where Marbury left off. Boston went on a 17-3 run in the last 3 minutes. Ray Allen hit the go ahead three (after only shooting 3-11 from the field) with 1:20 left to play - Mr. Clutch does it again.
During the fourth quarter Dwight Howard only had three touches and was a complete non-factor. Orlando went back to their outside only offense, scoring -0- in the paint.
According to Boston.com, a visibly frustrated Howard commented after the game, "When you're in a situation when guys got it going, everybody's moving the ball, and the energy is up, you've got to stick with it," Howard said. "You've got to stick with it. And when you take out certain guys and some guys have to get into the flow of the game, it's tough. Especially when you play a team like Boston.
Howard continued, "Our coach has to recognize when he has a certain group out there and they're getting the job done, you have to leave those guys on the floor. We're going to make mistakes, but I think the thing is you've got to go with what works."
Their is a lot of talk of Orlando's collapse and deservingly so. However, Bostons championship pedigree and five minutes of flawless basketball also stole the game from Orlando.
In light of all the officiating controversy around the league regarding last second calls (or no calls), Boston committed all the correct fouls down the stretch while going 6 for 6 from the line themselves. Glen Davis (22 points-10 fourth quarter) again performed in the clutch going 2-2 from the line with 4.6 seconds left to clinch the game.
Add this game 5 to the list of great Celtics performances in pivotal playoff games. Boston will try to close out this series at game six on Thursday night in Orlando. A game six victory would be paramount as we can really use the rest.
The cyclone that is the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James are on another vacation while waiting for us to close out this series. LeBron has made it clear that he wants Paul Pierce and a re-match of last years seven game thriller.
The Boston Celtics are 32-0 when leading a seven game series 3 games to 2 so it looks like King James will, as usual, get his royal basketball request - Boston in another seven game battle for the Eastern Conference Crown.