• 52°

Orlando not satisfied after outsing Boston

By Antonio Gonzalez
Associated PressORLANDO, Fla. ó The walls at the Orlando Magic’s headquarters are mostly bare. There are no champagne-splashed championship photos. No NBA title trophies or rings.
All that keeps the practice court from being completely blank are a few division title banners and one for an Eastern Conference championship.
“Low-hanging fruit,” Magic general manager Otis Smith loves to call them.
Fresh off a Game 7 win over the defending champion Boston Celtics that propelled the Magic into the Eastern Conference finals, fans in Orlando are ready to party like it’s 1996, when the team last made it this far.
But there’s nothing yet to celebrate.
A series with the Cleveland Cavaliers and MVP LeBron James begins Wednesday, and the architect of this Magic team wants to make clear that it’s time the franchise take the next step.
“We have to stop talking about making it to the conference level and start talking about winning a championship,” Smith said Monday. “And then we have to stop talking and start doing.”
In its 20th year as a franchise, Orlando has had more disappointments than highlights.
Shaquille O’Neal bolting for Los Angeles after the ’96 season. Grant Hill’s constant injuries and Tracy McGrady leading so many teams to promising regular seasons that always ended in the first round.
Now Orlando is halfway to a title. It’s won eight playoff games, and its eight more wins away from reaching the ultimate goal ó yet so much remains a mystery.
The Magic is full of young players, most of whom have never played this deep in the playoffs, and two rounds have done little to answer the questions that consistently crop up on such a streaky team.
Can Orlando play physical? Will it shoot such a high percentage when the pressure gets greater? Will Dwight Howard be the leader the Magic needs him to be? Will coach Stan Van Gundy crumble in the big moment?
“We’re one of four teams left now, so our chances got a lot better,” Smith said. “But we’re playing the best team in the NBA, so some would say are chances just got worse.”

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

Superintendent talks first 100 days, dives into district data

Business

‘It was an answer to a call:’ TenderHearted Home Care celebrates 10 years of providing care at home

News

Political Notebook: Local polls find increasing number of North Carolinians want COVID-19 vaccine

News

Trial begins on challenge to latest NC voter ID law

Local

Burch, Fisher, Marsh honored as 2021 recipients of Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Humanitarian Award

Landis

Landis board talks revenues, budget planning, department updates

College

College baseball: Catawba rolls 7-1 and 24-1

Nation/World

Student fires at officers at Tennessee school, is killed

Nation/World

Police: Minnesota officer meant to draw Taser, not handgun

Crime

Man receives consecutive prison sentences for sex offenses

BREAKING NEWS

RSS Board of Education approves Faith Elementary sale

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department receives 400 Pfizer, 800 Johnson & Johnson vaccines for week

Crime

Blotter: Accident in Food Lion only weekend shooting to produce injuries

Crime

Salisbury man charged with felony drug crimes

Crime

Second person charged in thefts from house near county line

Crime

Police use tear gas to end robbery stand off, arrest suspect

Local

Ask Us: When will Rowan Public Library’s West Branch open?

Nation/World

Prosecution case nears end in ex-cop’s trial in Floyd death

Nation/World

Officer accused of force in stop of Black Army officer fired

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with hitting man with car, fleeing while intoxicated

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native