Orlando Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu bobbled the ball, but regained composure and rose up to thrust the dagger into the Boston Celtics. His three-pointer from straight-away over Paul Pierce rattled in. The Celtics crowd drew silent, as they were for a majority of the pivotal Game Seven. Back-pedalling down court, Turkoglu pumped his fist repeatedly and nodded his head with confidence. His Magic, after a momentary lapse, were in control, ahead by fifteen points late in the fourth quarter.
Boston point guard Rajon Rondo scored the first points of the game by either team. From that point on, it was all Orlando. Point guard Rafer Alston and Turkoglu hit consecutive three-pointers, two of five in the first quarter drained by the Magic. They could not miss, clicking on all cylinders.
Two dunks by the beastly center Dwight Howard started a stretch in which Orlando canned seven straight shots to take a commanding 13-point lead. Bench scorer extraordinaire Mickael Pietrus capped a magnificent and nearly flawless quarter with a three-pointer. A ten point lead was intact. The Boston Garden crowd was stunned, as were its Celtics.
Boston guard Paul Pierce, the self-proclaimed “best player in the world” hit a 15-foot jumper to begin the second quarter. He would make only two more field goals the rest of the game, the next coming thirty one minutes later in the game. Despite Pierces' terrible performance, the Celtics climbed back into contention with a 15 to five spurt midway through the quarter. Suddenly, a 14 point deficit was down to four.
The Magic though nothing of it, finishing the second quarter as they did the first, with a three-pointer. This time it was Pietrus. Ball movement was crisp throughout the first half, spreading the floor for three-pointers and opening the lane for Howard to dominate down low. Given the circumstances on the road against the Celtics, they played as perfect as possible.
The lead was trimmed to four and stayed that way for the majority of the third quarter, until J.J. Redick and Turkoglu hit back-to-back three-pointers to increase the margin to ten points. Every time Boston scored, as they did on the next possession, a basket by Ray Allen, Orlando had an answer, this time specifically coming from Dwight Howard, a dunk off a nice feed from Redick.
They had some turnovers, but their offense was still ran to near perfection. It was amazing to watch, made even more exciting considering my displeasure for the Celtics.
Rondo ended the quarter with four straight points to keep Boston within reach, down only five entering the final quarter. A period that would be the final of their season.
It was the Pietrus and Courtney Lee show to begin the quarter, as the duo scored the first eight points. An 11 point lead was the Magic’s, and it would only grow.
A driving layup by Turkoglu and an ensuing free-throw after a clubbing doled out by Pierce, stretched the advantage to seventeen. The Garden was silent. Not a sound was made, except for the jubilant yelling by the TNT announcers and the screams of encouragement from Orlando’s bench.
A spattering of boos could be heard, just as the Magic wanted. Dwight Howard, after his spat with head coach prior to Game Six, said that Orlando would win the series. Of course, what else was he supposed to say? But he meant it, confident that his team could dispose of Boston.
Obviously, he was right in predicting this. Orlando had everything necessary to win the series. Defensive specialists in Pietrus, Lee, and a fearsome center in Howard, and sharpshooters that spread the floor and can hit three-pointers in their sleep in Pietrus, Turkoglu, Alston, Lee, Redick, and Rashard Lewis. Clearly, the Celtics played horrible, but the Magic won because they played up to potential.
Boston made many small runs, and the crowd was riled periodically, but they did not have a chance. So, when Allen’s three-pointer with four minutes and twenty seconds remaining dwindled the deficit to twelve, it was not surprising to see the Magic respond, as they did with their thirteenth three-pointer, Turkoglu’s from the top of the arc.