|Underdog Magic get to rest up for Round 2|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 29 April 2008 13:08|
The Magic were getting rested up for the second round Tuesday as the rest of the Eastern Conference continued to slog through the first round. Orlando wrapped up its series against the Toronto Raptors 4-1 after a 102-92 home win Monday.
``All I want them to do the next two days is enjoy it,'' Van Gundy said. ``And then on Thursday I'll go back to being myself again and we'll start getting ready. But for the next two days I want them to enjoy it. I don't want them to have to see me. I won't yell at anybody about anything. They can just have some fun.''
Orlando already looked like it was having plenty on the court. Dwight Howard was even better than in the regular season, if that's possible. He had 19 points and 12 rebounds in Game 3 and 19 points, 16 rebounds and a franchise-record eight blocks in Game 4.
Those were the off-days. Howard had at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in each of the other three games, the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in the 1972 NBA finals to accomplish that feat three times in a series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Howard and the Magic felt they had something to prove. Although Orlando won 52 games, 12 more than last season, and locked up the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, few considered the Magic a legitimate contender. That could change, with the heavily favored Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons struggling in separate series that will last at least six games.
The Magic will play the winner of Pistons-76ers, on several days of rest. If it's Philadelphia, they'll even have home-court advantage.
The Magic rolled despite losing the 3-point touch that had helped carry them all year. Orlando shot 38.6 percent in the regular season, fourth-best in the league. In five games against Toronto they hit 32.4 percent, including 9-for-32 Monday night, 9-for-31 in Game 2 and 6-for-27 in Game 3.
``Jameer and I've been here, it's been a long road for us,'' Howard said of point guard Jameer Nelson, who along with him was drafted in 2004 after the Magic finished 21-61. ``We've always been doubted, and for us to close out a series, it feels good.''
The Magic have been trying in vain for more than a decade to return to their glory days of the 1990s, when Shaquille O'Neal led them to back-to-back division championships and they made the NBA finals in '95, then the Eastern Conference finals in '96.
This was the first time Orlando advanced out of the first round since that run 12 years ago.
``We're happy that we won the first round, but we still have business to take care of,'' Nelson said. ``We're not totally satisfied right now. Our goal is to definitely win a championship, and we're headed in the right direction.''