ORLANDO, Fla. — Not ready to go home just yet, the only place the Orlando Magic are headed is back to Boston.
Halfway to history.
Taking another step toward overcoming an improbable 3-0 series deficit, Dwight Howard had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Magic to a 113-92 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.
"I don't know if you can say you have momentum when you're down 3-2 going into their place," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I still look at it like we're climbing a huge mountain here. But we are playing better."
A series that looked like a sweep a few days ago now has the Celtics taking a slim lead into a pressure-packed Game 6 in Boston on Friday night. The Celtics are facing the possibility of playing it without Kendrick Perkins after their starting center picked up his seventh technical foul of the playoffs, a mandatory suspension unless it is overturned.
A potential Game 7 would be in Orlando.
No NBA team has won a series after losing the first three games.
The Magic, seemingly lifeless after a blowout defeat in Game 3, suddenly have hope to be the first. They broke out of their series-long shooting slump, making 13 of 25 3-pointers.
Jameer Nelson scored 24 points, and J.J. Redick had 14 to help the Magic to a frenetic pace that the Celtics couldn't sustain. Howard added five blocks as Orlando built an early 14-point lead that was never seriously challenged.
Rasheed Wallace had 21 points, and Rajon Rondo scored 19 for a Boston team that once seemed on its way to another NBA finals.
Now? The Celtics are stunned and dazed — and Boston fans who just watched their NHL team blow a 3-0 lead are getting uneasy.
Howard's elbow inadvertently came down on Glen "Big Baby" Davis' face near the basket in the third quarter, giving the Celtics forward a concussion. Davis tried to get up as play continued on the other end, wobbling his way to midcourt, almost falling flat as referee Joey Crawford kept him from tumbling to the hardwood.
Davis did not return. Reserve Marquis Daniels also was hit with a similar inadvertent elbow from Howard, leaving him dizzy, and Wallace "tweaked" his back.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Davis "blacked out" on the court, and the training staff will examine the forward Thursday.
"I don't know what kind of tests they're going to do with Baby. He's a little delirious anyway," Rivers said, chuckling.
Give the Magic a little more than a puncher's chance.
Redick provided a big boost off the bench, making a pair of 3-pointers to highlight a 20-8 run that put Orlando ahead 51-37 in the second quarter. His swishes and crisp passing kept the Celtics scrambling, and it filled a major hole with starter Vince Carter continuing to struggle.
The Celtics are two games from infamy, and the pressure is mounting.
Only four times in the history of North American major pro sports leagues has a team won a playoff series after losing the first three games. Such comebacks are something Boston fans know all too well.4 comments on this story
It has happened three times in the NHL — most recently by the Philadelphia Flyers over the Boston Bruins earlier this month — and once in baseball, when the Red Sox came back to beat the Yankees in the 2004 AL championship series.
In 93 tries, it has just never been done in the NBA.
Here's the Magic's chance at history.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
CELTICS 3, MAGIC 2
Sunday, May 16: Boston 92, Orlando 88
Tuesday, May 18: Boston 95, Orlando 92
Saturday, May 22: Boston 94, Orlando 71
Monday, May 24: Orlando 96, Boston 92, OT
Wednesday, May 26: Boston 113, Orlando 92
Friday, May 28: Orlando at Boston, 6:30 p.m.
x-Sunday, May 30: Boston at Orlando, 6:30 p.m.
x- if necessary