The Orlando Magic will get a much-needed boost in their backcourt for Game 3 against the Boston Celtics with the return of Courtney Lee.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said after Friday's morning shootaround that Lee will be back in the lineup but will not start. Orlando's starting shooting guard missed the first two games of the series recovering from a fractured sinus and will have to wear a protective mask. J.J. Redick is expected to start in his place.
The Magic will be without starting point guard Rafer Alston, who was suspended by the NBA for slapping Eddie House in the back of the head in Game 2. Backup Anthony Johnson and seldom-used Tyronn Lue are expected to play in Game 3.
Van Gundy said he didn't necessarily disagree with the suspension, but he felt Boston's Rajon Rondo also should have been suspended for whacking Chicago's Brad Miller in the head in the closing seconds of Game 5 of the Celtics' first-round series.
The Orlando coach went as far as saying NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson and commissioner David Stern were the "only ones" who didn't think Rondo should have been suspended.
"I think it's clear in the rule book that that's what is called for," Van Gundy said about Alston's suspension. "The question everybody has is, 'Why when Brad Miller is going to the hoop, can you just take a swing?' You know, the only ones I think that agree that he didn't wind up and follow through were Stu Jackson and David Stern. I think everybody else, including Boston fans, know he wound up and followed through."
Alston said he agreed with the suspension and apologized to the team Friday, but he still maintains House goaded him into the play with a taunting elbow.
"Yea, that's the rule," Alston said. "Anything above the shoulders merits a suspension. Again, that's something I'll have to live with."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers has maintained he doesn't believe in postseason suspensions. However, House thought Alston's suspension was just.
"I think it's rightfully deserved," House said after Boston's Friday morning shootaround. "A play like that has no place in basketball. A cowardly move like that, you hit somebody in the back of the head. It would be different if I was facing him, but he did it when I was turned away."
This will be the second time this postseason the Magic will have a starter suspended.
Howard lost his cool and elbowed Samuel Dalembert in the head to draw a suspension for Game 6 of their first-round series against Philadelphia _ but Orlando still managed to win. The Magic also have been without All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson since early February, when he suffered a season-ending shoulder tear.