Boston draws first blood in Orlando; Carmelo’s best day ever

By: 05.17.10

Ray Allen (photo. Jordan Brand)

Best-case scenario for the Orlando Magic: This isn’t going to be fo’, fo’, fo’ and fo’ on their way to a championship. Worst-case: They’ve run into a veteran squad of proven winners that are peaking at the right time and have months’ worth of chips on their shoulders … Ray Allen led the way for Boston in yesterday’s Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 win, scoring 25 points (8-16 FG) as the Celtics jumped out to an early lead on the road and were up double-digits in the first half before stretching the lead to 20 late in the third quarter. Going into the fourth it was a 16-point lead before White Chocolate and Air France hit back-to-back triples to spark an Orlando rally. During a crucial five-minute stretch the Celtics went scoreless, while the Magic got to within three points before Paul Pierce (22 pts, 9 rebs, 5 asts) finally hit some free throws with 12 seconds left to put Boston up five. Vince Carter hit one free throw and missed the second on purpose, and Jameer Nelson tipped in the miss to make it a two-point game with nine seconds left … Now this was where Orlando needed anybody but Ray Allen to catch the inbound pass, but they still couldn’t keep it out of his hands. And you know what Ray does when it’s time to knock down game-icing free throws … A lot of what went wrong for the Magic could be chalked up to rust from not having played a game since May 10 — and not having played a tough game since sometime in April. They shot 5-for-22 beyond the arc, committed 18 turnovers, and got off to a slow start, falling behind 7-1 in the first quarter before they even began to wake up. Vince (23 pts) was aggressive and took the ball to the rack consistently, as did Jameer (20 pts, 9 rebs), but they both missed some shots at the rim they usually make. Rashard Lewis got enough open looks, but he bricked all six of his tries beyond the arc … Dwight Howard was getting mugged all night, but it wasn’t dirty — just physical postseason basketball. Playing on a sore knee, Kendrick Perkins did a fantastic job defensively on Dwight (13 pts, 12 rebs, 5 blks), with help from Rasheed Wallace, KG and Big Baby. Dwight and ‘Sheed were hit with double techs after the roughhousing started to boil over in the third quarter, but it never got out of hand … Dwight could have used some help from Carlos Boozer, who was in the crowd. When Chris Bosh was showing up for L.A.’s playoff games it started the rumor mill that he was liking the idea of playing with Kobe, but don’t start picturing Booz in an Orlando uniform. He has an offseason home in Florida, but they don’t have enough money for him. Now Boozer in Miami? That could definitely happen … If the Suns and Lakers are rusty going into tonight’s Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals (9 p.m. EST, TNT), at least they’re working on a level playing field. Kobe and Andrew Bynum have had a week to let their various aches and pains heal, while Steve Nash has had time to let that matzah ball on his face settle down. The Suns have to come out strong and not seem like an underdog right away. If they go down big in the first quarter, the series could be done right there … Of course if the Lakers need extra motivation, they can just PLAY THIS and vow to not become the subject of another awful song … The most random NBA offseason public appearance of the month goes to Carmelo Anthony, who was one of the judges for last night’s Miss USA pageant. Sharing the table with Donald Trump‘s wife, Oscar Nunez from “The Office,” celebrity chef Paula Deen and, um, flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir, ‘Melo had the “I hope my boys don’t see this” smile when they introduced him. But we can think of worse things to do in Las Vegas than getting a front-row view of 51 hot women in bikinis … We’re out like 16-0 …

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