Magic Refuse To Quit
After the Orlando Magic fell behind by 19 points in the fourth quarter of game 4 of their first round playoff series with the Indiana Pacers on Saturday afternoon, it would have been easy to quit.
After all, the Magic are without Dwight Howard, had been beaten handily in the second half in each of their last two games against the Pacers and faced a deficit that was seemingly insurmountable.
However, the Magic did the opposite, rallying to tie the game and send it to overtime, where they ultimately fell a basket short, losing 101-99 and falling behind three games to one in the series.
“It’s pretty easy to cave and we didn’t do that,” said Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy. “I give them a lot of credit for fighting back.”
The Magic now face the daunting task of winning three consecutive games, two of which would be on Indiana’s home court.
“What do you say?” asked Van Gundy. “They all know the score. It’s 3-1 and it’s a matter of mindset and whether you think you’re still in the series or not.”
Although the Magic are obviously upset about the heartbreaking defeat, they found positives in the defeat and clearly believe they’re still in the series.
“Every loose ball we were on, every rebound we boxed out,” Forward Glen Davis said. “I haven’t felt that was since the first game, the sense of urgency.”
From the start of the season when Howard acknowledged he had asked the Magic to trade him, the end of the season when it was announced Howard would have back surgery and miss the playoffs to Saturday’s improbable fourth quarter rally, this Magic team has responded well to adversity all season.
“With our backs against the wall, we fight really, really hard,” Davis said.
The Magic are using the old, sometimes played out adage of “one game at a time,” but at this point, that’s really they only way you can look at the situation.
“We just have to go up to Indiana and get one,” Point Guard Jameer Nelson explained. “It’s just one win at a time.”
“We’ve just got our work cut out for us,” Guard Jason Richardson told reporters. “Just got to go out there and play for our lives now. ”
Despite their loss Saturday, the Magic are using their fourth quarter rally as a confidence booster.
“We just have to go out there with the same intensity that we had today and try to get more stops,” said Nelson.
“If we played like that, we’d up by now,” Davis added.
Game 5 will take place in Indianapolis Tuesday night.
Ryan Anderson’s New Deal?
On Friday, Ryan Anderson won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award . After a few statements about the award, Anderson and Magic General Manager Otis Smith were asked about Anderson’s contract situation. Anderson will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
Anderson told the media “I love it here in Orlando,” but certainly didn’t guarantee he’d stay with the team beyond this season, going on to tell reporters that he wants to go into free agency “with an open mind” and that he “has to do what’s best” for his career.
The Magic have dealt with restricted free agents twice in the last three seasons. They let both Marcin Gortat and J.J. Redick test the market and sign offer sheets with other teams. Gortat eventually signed an offer sheet with the the Dallas Mavericks while Redick inked one with the Chicago Bulls.
Orlando wound up matching both of those offers and retaining both players. One would assume Orlando will operate the same way this season.
News & Notes:
- You can watch Carson Ingle and I discuss the Magic here .
- Jameer Nelson is eligible for a no trade clause . ESPN Florida has been told one reason Nelson is expected to opt out of his contract after the season  is because he does not want to be traded and wants to pick his landing spot (his first choice is to stay in Orlando).
Remember to listen to The Insiders Show every Sunday morning at 10:00 am EST.
(Andrew Melnick is the ESPNFlorida.com  Magic and NBA Insider, co-host of the ESPN 1080 Insiders Show and publisher of Howard the Dunk. The Insiders Show can be heard Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST on AM 1080 in Orlando and on ESPNFlorida.com . You can follow Andrew on twitter here.)