Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy saw something different about Dwight Howard heading into the playoffs.
The 22-year-old All-Star, usually the team's biggest jokester, suddenly got serious. So did his already-impressive numbers.
Howard had 21 points, 21 rebounds, and 3 blocks - his third 20-20 game in the series - and the Magic advanced to the second round for the first time in 12 years by beating the Toronto Raptors, 102-92, in Game 5 in Orlando, Fla., last night.
"There was a different demeanor from him," Van Gundy said of his young center. "Dwight is a fun-loving guy and he likes to fool around. There are a lot of times during the year, not bad, but a lot of times during the year where I've got to try to bring him back to being serious when we're preparing.
"I did not have to say one word, from the start of preparation for this series all the way through," Van Gundy said.
Howard's game said it all. And with Orlando's usually steady 3-point shooting on the fritz, his inside power was enough to pull them through.
"He's a phenom; he's the best center in the league," said Raptors star Chris Bosh, who was guarded by Howard all game. "He's probably the strongest guy in the league, and he knows how to use his body. It doesn't surprise me at all. I've seen him play this whole series, I've seen him play this season."
Bosh, who posted career playoff highs of 39 points and 15 rebounds at Toronto Saturday, had 16 points and nine rebounds last night. Howard frustrated him down low into 7-of-19 shooting, and Bosh picked up a third-quarter technical foul after the Magic star muscled past him for a layup.
The Magic will play the winner of the Detroit-Philadelphia series, which is tied 2-2.
The Magic struggled again from 3-point range (9 of 32), but made them when it counted. Keith Bogans and Jameer Nelson each hit one and Howard added a layup as the Magic answered with an 8-0 run over 3:13 to open a 92-82 lead, then its largest of the game. It was enough room to let them coast.
Lakers 107, Nuggets 101 - Kobe Bryant scored 14 of his 31 points over the final 5 1/2 minutes, leading visiting Los Angeles to a sweep of their first-round series.
Pau Gasol added 21 points. Denver became the first 50-win team to be swept in the first round. The Lakers will meet the winner of the Utah-Houston series, which the Jazz lead, 3-1.
The Nuggets were no match for the top-seeded Lakers, who are 25-5 with Gasol in the lineup.
Bryant took over in the waning minutes, scoring 9 straight points in every way - a turnaround jumper, a 3-pointer, a driving layup and a 15-foot floater - to give the Lakers a 97-96 lead.
When Luke Walton made a 3 from the right corner, the Lakers went ahead, 100-96, with 2:37 left, and Denver's Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony soon fouled out. Bryant made three free throws and a jumper after that.