May 14, 2009

NBA: Orlando 83, Boston 75

Dwight Howard gave Orlando the lead with 3:50 to play Thursday and the Magic scored the final eight points to down Boston 83-75 and stay alive in the playoffs.

Orlando tied the Eastern Conference semifinals at 3-3 and forced a deciding seventh game, which will be played in Boston on Sunday. The winner of that one will take on Cleveland in the conference finals.

Rajon Rondo made a jump shot for Boston with 3:50 remaining to forge a 75-75 tie and the defending champion Celtics did not score another point. Boston missed its last five attempts from the field and Paul Pierce also failed on a pair of free throw tries.

Howard hit one of two foul shots with 2:47 to play to put the Magic in front for good. Rafer Alston hit a jumper with 1:54 left for a three-point cushion and Hedo Turkoglu made a 3-pointer with 1:27 left that put Orlando in control.

Howard scored 23 points, Rashard Lewis had 20 and the Magic won despite shooting 36 percent from the field. Orlando overcame a nine-point deficit midway through the third period and held Boston to 13 points in the fourth quarter.

Rondo led the Celtics with 19 points and Pierce had 17.

Boston will be playing its second Game 7 of these playoffs. The Celtics were taken to the limit by Chicago in the opening round before eliminating the Bulls 109-99 in the deciding game.

Cleveland, meanwhile, awaits the winner having played the minimum number of games. The Cavaliers swept both Detroit and Atlanta in the first two rounds.