Time and time again, some unlucky player or team reminds us that no matter what the sport, it’s pretty much impossible to win if your two hands are clutching your throat. Today’s failboat crew: the Orlando Magic!
It’s not just that the Magic led through the entire second half; it’s that they led by 18 near the end of the third quarter, and Philly looked lost. But the Sixers climbed back, not with their regular cast of characters, but with guys like Lou Williams and the immortal Donyell Marshall. We’ve said for years that when you’ve got a guy that looks like Ludacris on the court, good things happen. Philly’s first lead of the second half came with just 2.2 seconds to go, when Andre Iguodala worked free from Hedo Turkoglu for a split second, just long enough to drain a long jumper in his face.
It’s yet another road win in this iteration of the NBA Playoffs, though not quite as dramatic as Derrick Rose’s superhuman playoff debut at the Garden. Still, it makes you wonder: is anyone even going to try to challenge the Cavs in the East? Boston’s just plain toast without KG, neither Miami nor Atlanta will take the Cavs past 5 games, and now here’s Orlando gagging away a large lead in the tone-setting first game of their series. They can still take the thing, but they’ll need to win at least twice to get to Game 6 back at the O-rena.
But we digress. Philadelphia deserves a ton of credit for scoring their 35 fourth-quarter points without panicking and running the ball for the sake of running; that they scored 35 on only 21 possessions is both amazing and totally unsustainable. But hey, the pressure was on and they did what they had to do, which is precisely what playoff basketball is about. The key stretch came midway through the final quarter, when the Sixers cut a 14-point lead down to three with an 11-0 run that only took up two and a half minutes.
It’s particularly disconcerting that Rashard Lewis, who had a solid first three quarters, started biffing everything in sight as the Sixers made their comeback. If Lewis doesn’t go 1-5 - or maybe if even one of those misses results in an offensive rebound - perhaps we’d be talking more about Dwight Howard’s unbelievable night (31 points on 13 shots, 15 rebounds) and less about the fact that the Eastern Conference playoffs are probably already over.