ORLANDO, Fla. — Not ready to go home just yet, the only place the Orlando Magic are 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 the Magic to a 113-92 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.
A series that looked like a sweep a few days ago now has the Celtics taking a 3-2 lead into a pressure-packed Game 6 in Boston on Friday night — possibly without two big men to defend Howard.
Kendrick Perkins was ejected late in the first half after picking up two technicals in less than two minutes, and Glen "Big Baby" Davis — his backup at center — left the game and didn't return after getting inadvertently elbowed by Howard late in the third quarter on Wednesday night.
Perkins was wild. Davis was woozy. And the Celtics have to be worried — because they could be without both in their next game. Perkins' ejection came after his sixth and seventh technicals of the postseason, which under NBA rules merits an automatic one-game suspension, though the league will review the calls and has the authority to rescind if it sees fit.
Davis' situation is out of the league's control. He was diagnosed with a concussion, and there was no immediate word on the severity.
He was defending Howard as the Magic star maneuvered near the basket with about 22 seconds left in the third quarter. Howard's left elbow struck Davis in the face, and Davis began staggering, falling to the floor and staying down on his back for a few seconds.
Davis tried to get up, taking a few steps before falling again as play continued on the other end of the court. When he finally got to his feet, he was clearly without his bearings, staggering sideways before Crawford stepped in front of him and tried to wrap his arms around the 289-pound man.
Davis was tended to on the court, sat up, then walked to the Celtics' bench with 9.7 seconds left in the quarter. He remained there for about two minutes, before walking toward the Boston locker room for evaluation, and the concussion diagnosis was announced shortly afterward.
Perkins was ejected with 36.1 seconds left in the half. He and Howard were jostling in the post, and Perkins was whistled for his third personal. Perkins outstretched his arms and protested the call demonstrably, not an uncommon sight for the Celtics' starting center, and referee Eddie F. Rush apparently decided he went too far.
Rush called the technical, Perkins looked on with an expression of stunned disbelief, then slowly shuffled to the other end of the court and eventually through the tunnel to the Boston locker room.
Perkins' first technical came after he and Orlando's Marcin Gortat were both whistled with 2:15 left in the half. After a play was blown dead, Perkins appeared to elbow Gortat in the chest, and Gortat knocked the ball out of Perkins' hands.
Perkins finished with two points and four rebounds in 16 minutes.
And if all that wasn't enough, Boston had more big-man woes later in the game.
Rasheed Wallace, the other primary option at center, fouled out with 4:49 remaining — and, after a moment on the Boston bench, walked slowly toward the Boston locker room as well.
Little-used Shelden Williams took over at center when Wallace departed.
Lakers' swaggerbecomes a stagger
After leaving town last week to chants of "We want Boston," Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol realize they won't even get the chance to defend their NBA title unless Los Angeles starts defending the Phoenix Suns.
Although Gasol says Game 5 on Thursday night is "a must-win for us," the champions' California cool shows few signs of cracking, beyond Bryant's grumbling about missed defensive assignments.
After surviving a near-identical jam in last season's conference finals against Denver, the Lakers came away with a confidence they can rise to any occasion — even a best-two-of-three series against a surging, shot-making opponent with rising confidence of its own.
"There's absolutely no doubt that we love this," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Wednesday, not sounding much like a coach planning to fill out retirement papers next month. "This is what champions are made of. If you have the best teams in the West going up against each other, it should come down to a challenge like this. ... This is what basketball at this level is. Like I told them, 'If you can't meet this challenge, then why go to the finals?'"