We are still quite bitter about our loss to the Hawks in the first round series. The Magic and its faithful are still trying to figure out exactly what the heck happened in its 4-2 loss to the Hawks. Orlando will be picking up those pieces over the next five months and trying to get back to playing at a championship level. There will be plenty of time to analyze exactly what went wrong and how to clean things up. For now, though, let's dream thanks to WhatIfSports.com...
Dwight Howard seethed as Derrick Rose lifted HIS MVP trophy high in the air in the pregame ceremony before Game Two. Another one of his monster efforts went for nothing in the Bulls' nine-point victory in Game One. Maybe the two MVP candidates were trying to do too much to prove themselves with The Boss, David Stern, in the building to hand out the hardware. Neither played their best game, relying on the supporting cast to get the job done.
Brandon Bass would step up and take the call. Bass scored five critical points in the final 90 seconds of the game, converting a three-point play to give the Magic the lead for good. Jameer Nelson sealed it at the free throw line as Luol Deng's 3-pointer at the buzzer fell no good, giving Orlando a 107-104 victory and a 1-1 tie in the series as the teams head to Amway Center for Game Three on Friday.
Bass scored only nine points and six rebounds in the game, but his late spurt proved to be what the Magic needed to net the win.
Dwight Howard still had 19 points and 17 rebounds, proving to be a force defensively as he always is, but his six turnovers marred his evening. The Magic though received a much more balanced scoring effort than in Game One. Jason Richardson, despite shooting 3 for 8, got to the line eight times and hit all his free throws to score 17 points. Jameer Nelson added 16 points, despite shooting 6 for 17 from the field, and Ryan Anderson scored 18 points off the bench.
Orlando shot better from 3, making 13 of 29 from the floor, but still shot just 46 percent from the floor. Better, but not all the way back. The 3-point shooting kept the offense going as did attacking the basket and going to the foul line -- 26 for 35. It also helped the league's third best defense showed up and helped Orlando grind the game out.
Always a good sign when the Magic's offense does not play its best, yet still finds a way to win.
Chicago shot only 44.8 percent and unlike Game One could not hit 3-pointers -- going only 8 for 18 including Deng's ill-fated final attempt. Deng was 3 for 11 in scoring 12 points and Rose was 8 for 19 to score his 23 points. After Korver's big Game One, the sharpshooter scored only five points.
The Bulls also did not establish as much of a rebounding advantage, winning the boards 49-43. Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah could only manage nine rebounds each while Deng was the Bulls' lone player to reach double digits in rebounds.
A great effort on the road for Orlando, as the team held off Chicago's offensive onslaught in the fourth quarter -- Chicago won the quarter 32-30. The ability to play at both a slow and fast pace is a good sign for the Magic, especially with both teams playing uncharacteristically well offensively in this battle of two good defensive teams.
The Magic though have to be feeling good with Game Three coming up and a chance to take control of the series at home.
Dwight Howard: 24.5 PPG, 18.5 RPG, 59.4% FG%, 2.5 BPG
Ryan Anderson: 13.5 PPG, 35.7% 3FG%
Jameer Nelson: 16.5 PPG, 7.0 APG, 46.4% FG%
Derrick Rose: 22.5 PPG, 10.5 APG, 47.4% FG%
Luol Deng: 14.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 42.9% FG%
Carlos Boozer: 16.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 5.0 APG, 43.8% FG%
Photo via DayLife.com.