Thaddeus Young won it at the end with a layup, contorting around Orlando's Dwight Howard with 2 second left. The final score was 96-94. The Wachovia Center erupted. The Sixers now lead the Magic in their best of seven playoff series, two games to one.
It was a wild night. Howard had 36 for the Magic. Andre Iguodala had 29 for the Sixers. The Sixers blew a 17 point lead but survived.
The first half was the Sixers’ best of the series. It was their best because they did what they do best – running and attacking the rim. They made 13 baskets from inside of about 4 feet, and they also made 12 out of 13 free throws, and they built a 60-49 lead at the break.
The other key stat, midway through: the Sixers had 9 fast-break points and the Magic had only 2. Again, this is the Sixers’ game – and when you consider the fact that they had only 21 combined fast-break points in the first two games, well, it told you all you needed to know about the stylistic forces at work.
The Sixers would increase the lead to 17 points, 74-57, when Andre Iguodala made a ridiculous fallaway jumper with two Magic players bracketing him and the shot clock expiring. They had stopped attacking the basket but it didn’t seem to matter.
And then it did.
Willie Green, traveling.
Shot clock violation.
Green, missed three-pointer.
Samuel Dalembert, turnover.
Put it this way: the Sixers had only six turnovers in the game’s first 29 minutes and then they have five more in the next 4 ½ minutes, five more in the space of nine possessions. And during that stretch, a 15-point lead evaporated.
The Magic, a great three-point shooting team that had been silenced from distance in the first two games of the series, suddenly banged in three three’s while the Sixers were throwing the ball around so carelessly. The lead was only 80-77 after the third quarter. When Rashard Lewis poured in a three-pointer, it was 86-86 with under 6 minutes to go.
It ricocheted from there. And in the end, there was Thaddeus Young. It was only his third basket of the game.