The Orlando Magic accomplished what no other team in the first round of the NBA playoffs were able to do. They swept their opponent right out of the post-season.
Behind a 21-point effort from Vince Carter and 18 points from Jameer Nelson, the Magic won their series over the Bobcats 4-0, advancing to the second round as they look to repeat their Eastern Conference crown.
Dwight Howard was in his familiar position on the bench, after fouling out in a series that he had been in foul trouble every game. Fortunately for the Magic in this series, their depth allowed for them to overcome Howard’s foul trouble. The Magic big-man had only six points.
Orlando now plays the waiting game to see if they match up against Atlanta or Milwaukee in the second round, with that series currently knotted at 2-2.
“If you would have told me that he would have averaged well under 30 minutes for the series and we would sweep, I would have said you’re crazy,” remarked Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy in a post-game interview. “I think it’s a testament to our other guys.”
Howard was effective on the glass during the 23 minutes he was on the court, hauling in 13 rebounds, but for the second consecutive game fouled out.
“He and I got into it a little bit,” Van Gundy said after the game of Howard. “It wasn’t a bad argument. My point was he was in the restricted area and he’s got to jump. He’s so frustrated now that what he was trying to say is it wouldn’t matter. But, well, let’s jump and find out. What he did was give them the call.”
From there, Orlando relied on jump shots and perimeter shooting, for which they found both in bulk.
Rashard Lewis tabbed 17 points on the night, while Matt Barnes contributed 14. Barnes was also solid on the defensive side of the court, as he held Stephen Jackson to just 2 of 11 from the floor.
On the other side of the court Tyrus Thomas led Charlotte with 21 points on the night, but was not able to hang with the Magic.
For the Bobcats, their focus shifts from the playoffs, to their head coach Larry Brown, who’s future remains undetermined. Brown insists however that his intent is to remain in Charlotte, or retire.
“I’m not coaching anywhere but Charlotte,” Brown said in a post-game interview. “Now am I going to go home and talk to my wife and kids? I’ll be 70 years old with two young kids. Am I going to talk to them and find out what I need to do and am I going to talk to Michael? Yeah, absolutely.”
Brown’s immediate focus was on the game however, as his Bobcats hung in until the end, but could not convert on their opportunities down the stretch,
“They’re better,” Brown remarked. “They know how to play playoff basketball. We haven’t figured it out yet.”
The Magic will now have at least several days to rest, until the Hawks-Bucks series completes, with potentially three games still to be played.
Online Sportsbooks have formulated new odds for the Magic, now boasting 4/1 to win the 2010 NBA Championship.