CHARLOTTE // The Orlando Magic completed their first best-of-seven postseason sweep, dispatching the Charlotte Bobcats with a series-ending 99-90 victory yesterday. Vince Carter dug himself out of a recent scoring slump with 21 points, while Jameer Nelson tallied 18 to help the Magic become the first team to advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Magic will now face either Milwaukee and Atlanta, whose series is locked at 2-2 following the Bucks' 111-104 win on Monday.
"That was a very difficult series," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We struggled to score points and get shots. They had a great game plan in the series and both teams played extremely hard. I was proud of our intensity and resolve." Thomas had 21 points and nine rebounds for postseason debutantes Charlotte. The Bobcats led by two at halftime before the defending Eastern Conference champions took control in the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run sparked by Magic reserve Mickael Pietrus that opened an 87-76 lead.
Pietrus made two three-pointers during the run and had 10 of his 13 points in the fourth. Carter also managed his first three-pointer of the series in the same period, having entered the game 0-for-12 from distance. Orlando All-Star centre Dwight Howard's postseason foul troubles continued when he was sent off in the final quarter with just six points and 13 rebounds. In other playoffs action, the Phoenix Suns took a 3-2 series lead after an emphatic 107-88 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Game Six is in Portland on Thursday. * Reuters