NBA: Frustrations evident, and Magic in an 0-2 hole Celtics top Magic, take 2-0 lead in East finals
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Sports Writer
ORLANDO, Fla. — They lost their cool, then lost the game.
And if that wasn't bad enough, the Orlando Magic might have just lost any realistic hope of returning to the NBA finals.
With frustration evident, tempers flaring and a fan base fearing the season was slipping away, the Magic lost Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Boston Celtics 95-92 on Tuesday night, falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven series and putting themselves into a most precarious hole.
Not only do they need to find a way to win four of the next five games against a team that has lost just three times so far in the entire postseason, but at least two of those wins will have to come in Boston — where the series shifts for Game 3 on Saturday night.
It was an Orlando ungluing, and it came at the absolute worst time.
The Magic argued calls, plenty of them. Vince Carter waved his arms in disbelief when called for his third foul, incensing referee Bill Kennedy enough to call a technical. They argued with each other at times, J.J. Redick and Dwight Howard appearing to exchange a couple of words when Redick threw the ball away in the third quarter. They smacked their hands in disgust, like Rashard Lewis did after a rebound evaded his grasp.
And still, they had chances.
Carter had two free throws with 31.9 seconds left that could have gotten Orlando within one point — he missed both. The Magic seemed to waste at least 3 seconds on the ensuing possession, after Kevin Garnett's jumper that would have clinched it for Boston rimmed out. Redick dribbled upcourt, but no timeout was called until only 3.5 ticks remained on the clock.
One last chance.
Jameer Nelson got the ball, dribbled and let fly from about 30 feet. His shot was short, and the Celtics could finally exhale.
The Magic could only shuffle off the court, perhaps for the last time in their current home arena. A glistening new building awaits next door, set to open next fall. There's now no guarantee of any more Orlando home games this season, one of championship expectations that could be over in less than a week.
Orlando has been a happy-go-lucky group pretty much all season, the sort of team that jokes around in the locker room almost constantly. The Magic probably won't be that way much for the next few days — nor were they during Game 2, a night that won't be remembered as a fun one for anyone except the team in green.
Even referee Joe DeRosa seemed to let emotions boil over.
DeRosa got into what appeared to be a heated discussion with a fan near the scorer's table at halftime. As DeRosa was walking to the table to get the warm-up jackets for his crew, a fan approached from the other side gesturing wildly. DeRosa flipped the game ball to the fan, who tossed it back, and DeRosa motioned for the man to be ejected by security.