PHILADELPHIA -- Only six NBA teams managed winning records on the road during the regular season.
The Los Angeles Lakers led the league with 29 victories while the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic tied for second with 27. The San Antonio Spurs compiled 26 road wins while the Denver Nuggets had 21.
|'It's a new series now,' Hedo Turkoglu says after going 8-for-11, including the winning 3. (Getty Images)|
In the playoffs, everything is magnified. The crowds are louder, the defensive intensity is greater and the games are more important.
Trailing 2-1 in the best-of-7 opening-round series against the surprising sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, the third-seeded and favored Magic came up with their biggest road victory of the season.
Orlando's heart-throbbing 84-81 win on Hedo Turkoglu's 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds remaining, evened the series at 2. That clutch shot also helped the Magic avoid back-to-back road losses for the first time all season.
"I thought we fought hard for that," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said matter-of-factly.
The Magic held a 79-69 lead but couldn't put away the feisty Sixers in the final five minutes.
Samuel Dalembert's dunk with 14.8 seconds left tied the score at 81 and capped a furious comeback before Turkoglu's heroics.
Even if Turkoglu had missed the final shot, the Magic certainly wouldn't have panicked in overtime. Not when they won 59 games and 27 on the road during the regular season, including both meetings against the Sixers at the Wachovia Center.
"No way, man, we don't panic," said Orlando forward Rashard Lewis, who bounced back after a subpar effort in Game 3 with 17 points in Game 4. "We've done it all season. It's not like it's new to us or anything. We had the game won and let the Sixers all the way back in it. Thankfully, we made the shot we needed to make. If we had to go five extra minutes, we wouldn't have been worried or anything. It's about making plays."
For the first three games, the Sixers made enough plays to take a stunning 2-1 advantage. They had a chance to really seize momentum with a win in Game 4.
Really, the Sixers have to be pleased with a split in the first four games. When you're so close to stealing one, you're naturally disappointed when it doesn't happen.
"Yeah, I'd say it's very disappointing," said Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young, who had 15 points. "We got back into the game and did everything we needed to do. We just didn't finish. We're a little down, but we're going to bounce back. We have a lot of fight in us. We're going to come back and battle."
Unlike last year -- when the Sixers had an opportunity to go up 3-1 against the Detroit Pistons but squandered a 10-point lead at halftime -- this year's version seems to be different.
The Sixers fell meekly to the Pistons in six games.
"We're a mature team," Miller said. "We're not going to pout about this. The Pistons took it to us at the end of last year's series. We know we have to deal with it again against Orlando. It's an opportunity lost, and we have to go into their house and win a game. We're looking forward to the game."
One trouble spot for the Magic has to be offensive rebounding. They didn't corral an offensive rebound until the fourth quarter and tied a franchise playoff record low with three. The last time Orlando finished with a measly three offensive boards was all the way back on April 20, 2002 at Charlotte.
How long ago was that? Well, Charlotte's franchise was the Hornets not the Bobcats.
"Offensive rebounding isn't something I put a lot of emphasis on," Van Gundy said.
But ... it has to be a concern.
"Sure, you want second-chance points," Lewis said. "We have to do a better job. We don't want it to become a trend or anything like that."
Still, the Magic have to be thrilled heading back home all tied up.
Even with the lack of offensive rebounding, poor 3-point shooting (6-of-20) and foul shooting (12-of-20), they escaped with a road win.
It wasn't as pretty as some of the regular-season victories away from Amway Arena. It counts the same, though.
"It feels great," Turkoglu said. "It's a new series now."