ORLANDO - Not ready to go home for the summer just yet, the only place the Magic is headed is back to Boston.
Halfway to history.
Taking another step toward overcoming an improbable 3-0 series deficit, Dwight Howard had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Orlando to a 113-92 victory over the Celtics last night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.
"We just all believe," guard Jameer Nelson said. "We all believe. We know we can do it, one game at a time."
A series that looked like a sweep a few days ago now has the Celtics taking a slim, 3-2 lead into a pressure-packed Game 6 in Boston tomorrow night. The Celtics are facing the possibility of playing it without Kendrick Perkins after their starting center picked up his seventh technical foul of the playoffs, a mandatory suspension unless it is overturned.
A potential Game 7 would be in Orlando.
No NBA team has won a series after losing the first three games.
The Magic, seemingly lifeless after a blowout defeat in Game 3, suddenly has hope to be the first. Orlando broke out of its series-long shooting slump, making 13 of 25 three-pointers.
"They are a great team when they get a lead, because then those threes are easy," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought we never applied any real pressure."
Nelson scored 24 points, and J.J. Redick had 14 to help the Magic to a frenetic pace that the Celtics couldn't sustain. Howard added five blocks as Orlando built an early 14-point lead that was never seriously challenged.
Rasheed Wallace had 21 points, and Ray Allen scored 19 for a Boston team that once seemed on its way to another NBA Finals.
Now? The Celtics are stunned and dazed.
Howard's elbow inadvertently came down on Glen "Big Baby" Davis' face near the basket in the third quarter, giving the Celtics forward a concussion. Davis tried to get up as play continued on the other end, wobbling his way to midcourt, almost falling flat as referee Joey Crawford kept him from tumbling to the hardwood.
Davis did not return. Reserve Marquis Daniels also was hit a similar inadvertent elbow from Howard, leaving him dizzy, and Wallace "tweaked" his back.
Rivers said Davis "blacked out" on the court and the training staff will examine the forward today.
"I don't know what kind of tests they're going to do with Baby. He's a little delirious anyway," Rivers said, chuckling.