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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 night's 23-point Boston victory. The Lakers lead the Suns 2-1 in the Western Conference finals, with Game 4 on Tuesday night in Phoenix.
But there was no more chanting about the Lakers on Monday night.
"I know they (the Celtics players) heard it. They had no choice but to hear it," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I don't know if they believed it. We didn't play well, I know that. I hope that wasn't the reason."
Only four times in the history of the North American major pro sports leagues has a team come back to win a playoff series after losing the first three games. It's been done three times in the NHL -- most recently this month by the Flyers in this building -- and once in baseball, when the Boston Red Sox came back to beat the New York Yankees in the 2004 AL championship series.
"You never know what can happen," Magic guard J.J. Redick said. "We can be like the Red Sox, coming back from 0-3. You never know."
The Magic's biggest lead of the series had been a three-point edge in the first quarter of Game 2, but they opened with their highest-scoring quarter of the series on Monday to take a 31-26 lead. They made it 42-32 in the second before Boston cut the deficit to four points at the half.
Orlando led 85-78 on Howard's three-point play, but Pierce sliced past Howard for a dunk that cut it to five, then Allen hit a 3-pointer to make it 85-83 with 1:41 left. Nelson made one of two free throws, and then Pierce went to the basket and drew a foul, completing the three-point play to make it 86-all with 1:16 left.
But Pierce missed a jumper with a chance to give Boston the lead, Nelson missed for Orlando and Pierce lost his handle on the ball in the final seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime.
NOTES: Sporting goods chain Modell's sent out an e-mail a few hours before the game advertising Eastern Conference championship gear -- if the Celtics won. ... Garnett was called for a technical foul with 9:22 left in the third quarter after shoving Howard. ... After Rondo left the game with his third foul late in the first half, he went to the locker room with muscle spasms. He returned for the start of the third quarter. He finished with nine points and eight assists. ... It was the first playoff overtime for the Celtics since having four overtime games against Chicago in the first round last year.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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