ORLANDO -- Game 4 is Sunday night, and will both teams please arrive on time?
This insipid see-sawing Eastern semifinal is developing an unfortunate Harlem Globetrotters vs. Washington Generals rhythm. On Friday the Celtics surrendered one of their worst defensive performances of the season in a 117-96 loss to the Magic, who grabbed a 2-1 lead. For most of this series one team or the other has been running unopposed.
In the opening round the Magic clobbered the 76ers when their center
"It is getting to the point now that everytime something happens, you're supposed to get up here and lobby for this guy to get suspended,'' said Van Gundy in a criticism that was echoed by Rivers. "And I don't like it. Suspend them in the regular season or next year.''
To dwell on the dead horse that these suspension-laden playoffs are fast becoming, the Magic entered the fourth quarter in fear of being defined by the talent they were lacking. Top point guards Alston and
On top of all that came the benching of Howard for his fifth personal with 9:50 remaining while needlessly blocking a drive by
But by then
"We played with a lot more energy tonight,'' Van Gundy said.
"`I was disappointed in how we competed tonight,'' Rivers said.
The Celtics didn't make a jump shot of length until the third minute of the second quarter.
Johnson put his 12 years of NBA experience to use by applying his size to occasionally beat Rondo off the dribble. The suspension of Alston was further mitigated by the return of rookie
"We didn't get out to their shooters and we let Howard get down the middle,'' Pierce said. "When you give them the inside game and the outside game, you don't have a chance.''
Can the Celtics stop the inside-outside threat of Lewis (game-high 28 points) in Game 4 -- especially if Perkins is suspended? Van Gundy predicted they'll make a better try of it when he congratulated his players on their win by warning them to not celebrate. He wants them to focus on winning Game 4, as the Celtics surely will do.
Wouldn't it be a nice change to see two teams playing well at the same time?