BOSTON - Put away the brooms. Hold off on those "Beat L-A!" chants. The Boston Celtics still have some work to do before they can play for their second NBA title in 3 years.
Jameer Nelson made back-to-back three-pointers in overtime, Dwight Howard had 32 points and 16 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic beat the Celtics, 96-92, last night to avoid a four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference finals.
Dressing in the same locker room where the Flyers celebrated their comeback from a 3-0 deficit against the Boston Bruins in the NHL's Eastern Conference semifinals, the Magic avoided elimination and sent the series back to Orlando for Game 5 tomorrow night.
The Bruins also lost Game 4 in overtime.
No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit.
"Got to go back to Orlando," Howard said. "Hopefully everybody back there will be ready. Have to keep the faith."
Paul Pierce had 32 points and 11 rebounds, and Kevin Garnett had 14 points and 12 boards for Boston. Ray Allen hit consecutive three-pointers in overtime, but Pierce missed two tries in the final minute as the Celtics failed to complete the sweep.
Nelson finished with 23 points and nine assists for the defending Eastern Conference champions, who led by 10 points in the second quarter and were up by 85-78 with 2:24 left in the fourth before Boston scored eight of the last nine points in regulation to force overtime at 86-all.
Neither team scored for the first 2:18 of the period before Nelson hit a three-pointer and then added another 43 seconds later. Allen made a three-pointer and, after Howard dunked and drew a foul - but missed a free throw - Allen hit another three to make it 94-92.
Howard followed up Nelson's miss with 53 seconds left to make it 96-92, then Garnett sailed a pass over Pierce's head and into the crowd. Pierce missed a pair of three-point attempts in the closing seconds.
Orlando's revival came just in time to avoid a Celtics walkover that had fans in the new Boston Garden chanting "Beat L-A!" early in the second half of Saturday's 23-point Boston victory. The Lakers lead the Suns, 2-1, in the Western Conference finals, with Game 4 tonight in Phoenix.