ORLANDO, May 27 – The Orlando Magic again fended off elimination in the NBA playoffs on Wednesday, beating Boston 113-92 to force a game six in the Eastern Conference finals."We just all believe," guard Jameer Nelson said after the Magic narrowed the deficit in the best-of-seven series to 3-2. "We all believe. We know we can do it, one game at a time."
Orlando are trying to become the first NBA team to climb out of an 0-3 hole to win a best-of-seven postseason series.
Dwight Howard had 21 points and 10 rebounds as Orlando’s second straight victory left the Celtics facing a tense home contest in game six on Friday, perhaps without starting center Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis.
Perkins picked up his seventh technical foul of the playoffs. That carries a mandatory suspension, but could be overturned by the league upon review.
Orlando, who looked dead in the water after a blowout loss in game three, demonstrated determination along with the scoring touch that had eluded them in the early games.
"They are a great team when they get a lead, because then those threes are easy," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of a Magic team that made 13 of 25 three-pointers. "I thought we never applied any real pressure."
Nelson scored 24 points, and JJ Redick had 14 as Orlando out-hustled the Celtics.
Howard added five blocks as Orlando built an early 14-point lead that was never in serious jeopardy.
Rasheed Wallace had 21 points, and Ray Allen scored 19 for the Celtics, who lost forward Davis in the third quarter to a concussion suffered when he was inadvertently elbowed in the face by Howard.
As play continued Davis got shakily to his feet and almost fell before he was supported by referee Joey Crawford.
Rivers said Davis "blacked out" and will be examined by training staff on Thursday.
With starter Vince Carter still struggling, Redick gave Orlando a big contribution off the bench, his two three-pointers keying a 20-8 run that put the magic up 51-37 in the seocnd quarter.
Boston’s Wallace picked up his third foul during the run and taunted the raucous Orlando fans all the way to bench.
The Celtics were in more trouble when Perkins was tossed from the game after drawing his second technical of the contest and seventh of the playoffs for arguing with officials.
Perkins and Marcin Gortat had been handed double technicals a few minutes before.
NBA officials review every technical, but unless they rescind one of them Perkins will be suspended for game six, robbing the Celtics of a player who has has been one of the most effective defenders of Howard.
The Celtics still have the upper hand as they return home for game six. Of the 93 NBA teams that have fallen 0-3 adrift in a series, only three have forced a game seven and none have won the series.
But Boston sports fans have seen the feat accomplished in other sports – most recently to their dismay just this month in the NHL playoffs as the Philadelphia Flyers rallied from an 0-3 series deficit to beat the Boston Bruins.
"At some point it will happen," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Why not us? Why not now?"