The Magic withstood a 49-point effort by MVP LeBron James.
Orlando was fueled by the superb play of Dwight Howard with 30 points and 13 rebounds. The Magic also had huge contributions from Rashard Lewis with 22 points, along with the eventual game winning shot with 14.7 seconds left.
The Magic have grown substantially as a team through their postseason success. They have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, with the outstanding play of their superstars and key role players.
Orlando also made it this far without their all-star point guard Jameer Nelson.
In early February of this year, the 6'0" Magic point guard hit the floor hard during a 105-95 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Nelson was diagnosed the following day with a torn labrum and announced he would have season-ending surgery.
Evidently, the sugery might not be season-ending after all.
Nelson stated today that if his Orlando team makes it to the NBA Finals, he might take the floor in a Magic jersey again to compete for the title.
The Magic all-star told NBA TV, “Sometimes people heal faster than others. I’m pushing myself a little, but I’m not going to do anything stupid. [A return] is definitely possible.’’
Nelson is greatly wanting to be able to play again, however, GM Otis Smith has apparently shot down the idea of Nelson's return.
“He’s a long way away and he just started shooting last week,’’ Smith said. “He was done for the season in February and that hasn’t changed. Right now he’s having a hard enough time playing [pick-up] against [athletic trainer] Keon [Wise]. It’s about his future. If it was up to him he’d play, but it’s not up to him. He’s moving good, feeling good, and looking good, but that’s playing against air.’’
If the former Saint Joseph's guard possibly shows signs of significant improvement, enough to change the mind of Smith, Orlando would undoubtedly be the team to beat in the playoffs.
Nelson made the all-star team for the first time during his four-year career. He averaged a career-high 16.7 points in 42 games for the Magic this year.