“It felt real good—it was an amazing feeling for me,” Howard said. “Actually, I almost got some tears.”
Howard scored six straight points in a 10-0 fourth-quarter run that sealed Orlando’s first playoff win since 2003. He also blocked five shots and made 9 of 11 free throws.
The Raptors, who trailed by 20 points after the first quarter, drew within five with 10:24 left in the fourth on two quick 3-pointers by Kapono and a Parker jumper. But Toronto went scoreless for the next 3:16 as Orlando pulled away.
“It is tough digging yourself a hole like that,” Parker said. “Every time we did make a run, they made a play and put it back around 10 or 12. We just never got over that hump, and I believe if we had it would’ve been a tough ballgame for them. The first quarter was the difference.”
The Magic held Bosh mostly in check. Smothered by Rashard Lewis inside the paint and out, the All-Star power forward started 1-of-6 from the field and scored 13 of his 21 points from the free throw line (13-of-13). Bosh picked up four fouls in the third quarter—including two within 20 seconds during tussles with Howard—and played limited minutes in the fourth.
“(Lewis) fronted me the whole game,” Bosh said. “He was up in my space. I should have done a better job expecting that. He did a good job; I’ll be ready for it in game two.”
Lewis, who is known more for scoring than defense, said it took all he had to keep up with Bosh. The Magic forward scored 10 in the first quarter and just three points the rest of the way.
“I just tried my best to keep the ball out of his hands, and when he did get the ball, try to take away his airspace and clog him as much as possible,” Lewis said.
Orlando looked unbeatable at the start, hitting its first seven shots and going 9-of-11 on 3-pointers in the first quarter. Evans scored 11 in the period as Orlando opened a 43-23 lead.
The 43 points were third highest in a first quarter for the playoffs, and Orlando’s nine 3-pointers tied Boston’s record for most in a playoff quarter. Howard blocked three shots in the period and altered several others.
“The thing we have to try to do a better job of is keeping (Howard) off the glass,” Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. “It’s easy for me to sit here and say it, but I don’t have to do it.”
The Magic shot 53 percent in the game, including 13-of-29 from 3-point range, compared with 38 percent and 9-of-20 for Toronto.
Howard had eight games in the regular season with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. He had seven points and nine rebounds at halftime, but turned it up in the second half when Orlando’s torrid shooting pace dipped.
“He obviously came to play tonight,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Now I think the lesson for our guys is it’s one game. In the playoffs you’ve got to rise to the occasion in each series at least four times, and really more than that, because sometimes you can rise to the occasion and still get beat.”
Howard had an NBA-leading 69 double-doubles during the regular season. … Game two is Tuesday. … The Magic turned the arena white and blue by giving fans T-shirts. It was the first time Orlando hosted a playoff series opener since 1999. … Masters champion Trevor Immelman watched from courtside.