Magic Beat Host Celtics 96-92 in Overtime to Avoid Sweep in NBA Playoffs

The Orlando Magic won the first overtime game of the National Basketball Association postseason, beating the Boston Celtics 96-92 to avoid a four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference finals.

Dwight Howard had 32 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Magic last night at TD Garden in Boston. Orlando trails 3-1 in the best-of-seven series and will host Game 5 tomorrow.

“I don’t think we played desperate, but I think we played hard,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said during his postgame news conference. “We did keep fighting and that’s what it took to get an overtime win. We actually made it tough on them.”

After losing the first three games of the series, including two at home, the Magic blew a seven-point lead in the final 2:24 of the fourth quarter last night.

They pulled out the win by outscoring Boston 10-6 in overtime, with Jameer Nelson hitting consecutive 3-pointers and Howard following with back-to-back layups.

Nelson had 23 points and nine assists for Orlando, which overcame a 1-for-9 shooting performance by Vince Carter, who finished with his playoff-low three points. No NBA team has overcome a 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series.

“If you don’t believe you’re going to win, it’s too easy to let go,” Van Gundy said. “Now you’re going home with some confidence that you can win and some understanding of how hard you have to fight to do that.”

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 32 points, while Ray Allen added 22 and Kevin Garnett had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“It was amazing how bad we were execution-wise and still had a chance to win that game,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said during a news conference. “We didn’t play with great energy.”

The Los Angeles Lakers lead the Phoenix Suns 2-1 in the Western Conference finals, with Game 4 scheduled for tonight in Phoenix.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

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