For the first time in a while, Dwight Howard looked like a dominant offensive player. If only for a couple of possessions, Howard stepped up his game in the final minutes of the game, using the frustration he had built up by hard fouls and some cheap calls against him to get Orlando going as a whole.
In the final eight minutes of the game, Howard scored 11 points, six of which came on hook shots in the lane over Kendrick Perkins, who is one of the best defensive centers in the game behind Howard.
Dwight’s final field goal came with 2:15 left in the game, giving the Magic a 91-89 lead. From that point to the end of regulation, both teams would hit a three and score a lay-up. Paul Pierce hit a three with 1:21 to go to give the C’s the lead back 92-91. Rajon Rondo added to the lead with a drive right to the cup, leaving just 51 seconds on the clock. Eager to get three of those five points back, J.J. Redick launched an ill-advised 26-footer with a man near him that swished right through the net to tie the game at 94.
The Celtics tried to get their best pure shooter a good look to put them up big, but Ray Allen misfired on a three and Rashard Lewis pulled down the rebound, giving the Magic 23 seconds of game time left and an opportunity to take the final shot of the game with the shot clock turned off.
Boston defended Orlando’s initial play pretty well. The Magic were trying to get the ball into Vince Carter‘s hands, but a good trap on Redick forced J.J. to dish it to Rashard in the corner. Normally, you would expect Lewis to take the shot, seeing as that his best basketball talent. But, instead, Lewis fooled on of the best defensive players in the history of the NBA, Kevin Garnett, and blew right by him to get a go-ahead lay-up with 1.3 seconds left.
The Celtics got two chances to in bounds the ball at half court to attempt a game-tying or winning shot. Rajon Rondo couldn’t make the pass quick enough on the first go-around and was forced to call a timeout even though Ray Allen was open. On their second try, the play was executed perfectly, as Rasheed Wallace came off of a screen and got a wide open look at the basket from the top of the key. I assumed he was going to make it as soon as I saw him pop off the screen but he didn’t even get rim.
Howard had a terrible night from the stripe (three-of-10), but was pretty much flawless everywhere else. He was eight-of-12 from the field, scored 19 points, collected 10 rebounds, and blocked four shots (including this big boy block on Paul Pierce). If he doesn’t get a cheap foul call on the offensive end against Kevin Garnett early, he could have had 25/15/5. He looked spectacular tonight despite facing off against someone who normally gives him fits in Perkins. Maybe he is starting to get it.
Rashard Lewis, aside from the game-winning shot, had a great game too. He scored 23 points, collected eight boards and shot eight-of-13 from the field.
To celebrate his first all-star game selection, Rajon Rondo scored 11 points to go along with eight assists (just two turns) and seven rebounds. Ray Allen added a team high 20 points on eight-of-12 shooting.
In a battle between an All-Star and one of the bigger snubs, David Lee got the best of Chris Bosh. Bosh finished with 27 points and 15 rebounds but shot just 10 of 25 from the field. Lee, on the other hand, playing with a little extra motivation after being denied a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star squad, got 29 points on 13-of-21 shooting with 18 rebounds.
Hedo Turkoglu had his best game in a while, dropping 26 points on 50% shooting and 11 rebounds.