Thursday, June 11, 2009
Somehow the Orlando Magic find themselves done, down 3 games to 1. The Magic could easily be up 3-1. After being blown out in Game 1, Orlando has actually outplayed the Los Angeles Lakers the last 3 games.
Boy, does experience matter. Orlando was a missed layup away from winning Game 2. They had no chance in OT. And last night, they controlled the entire first half, blew the game in the third quarter, and then came back and had the game wrapped up in the 4th.
But honestly! Do basketball players not watch other basketball games? Do they not learn from experience? Do they not understand Basketball 101?
With Orlando in control in the final minute of Game 4, up 3 points, Dwight Howard bricked two crucial free throws. Howard only needed one to basically seal the deal. And even missing both shots from the charity stripe, the Magic were still up 3 with less than 10 seconds remaining.
All they had to do was defend the three point shot, something you would think Orlando knows a lot about. And if LA doesn't drive the ball for an easy two, FOUL the guy before he has a chance to shoot a 3! Like I said before, Basketball 101!
Not only did Orlando fail to foul Derek Fisher, Jameer Nelson failed to get up in Fisher's grill and contest the shot.
Did we not learn anything from Memphis and the 2008 NCAA Championship Game? No, not cheating on your SAT's.
I know you can't put the total blame on the players. A lot has to fall on Stan Van Gundy who very much played the role of the Master Of Panic last night. I don't know what he told his team on that possession, but I hoped he told them to foul once the Lakers moved the ball past half court.
By not fouling Fisher, Van Gundy gave Phil Jackson, one of the most overrated coaches in NBA history, his record 10th Finals ring. I will write an article on why Jackson is one of the most overrated coaches in all sports in some other time. Really not much explaining to do there.
Orlando should have won last night's game by double digits. The reason they lost, free throws! Larry Bird used to call them "free points." The Magic were 22-37 from the "free point" line, just under 60%.
And with the game tied 91-91 with just over a minute to go in OT, it seemed like the Lakers had the ball an eternity. How many chances did Orlando give them before Fisher hit the game clinching 3? Like the whole second half, Orlando failed to crash the boards as a team.
And Kobe got away with a huge no call on Fisher's trey. Kobe hit Jameer hard with an elbow to a face that should have been an easy offensive foul. But at the same time, what's been fun about the last few games is the fact that the refs have been letting the teams play.
Kobe Bryant is the epitome of a street baller. You know, whenever he misses a shot, his hands immediately go up in the air and he has that astonished look on his face. "What! No Foul?!" Whenever he loses the ball, the same surprised expression. Everyone's played a pick up game with a guy similar to this. And how fun is that?
We've always heard about how important experience is when it comes to the NBA Finals. There was the Piston's trying to get over the hump in the late '80s. Even Jordan had his learning experience before polishing off 6 rings.
This same Lakers' team couldn't get over the hump last year against Boston, but are now proving last year's Finals lost has been a major stepping stone. But hey, you wouldn't think that with guys like Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher would need a learning experience.
The last three games of the NBA Finals have been great with two overtime games. But you could just feel Orlando not having the magic to finish a game off. (I know, good one.) If Kobe and the Lakers hadn't struggled from the line in Game 3, this very well could have been a sweep.
And speaking of Magic, one final note (since this will probably be my final post for a couple of weeks, I'm moving and will actually be going back to work for a week.)
I miss Charles Barkley and TNT's NBA coverage. I've heard that TNT's crew is covering the Finals on the NBA Channel. That must be on the same satellite feed as Versus, I don't get it but wish I did. I can't stand ESPN's studio crew and don't care to watch it. Really no personality there. Stuart Scott is stuck in 1997 and thinks he is still cool. Was he ever? I don't even know what Barry that is on the show. And Mike Wilbon, well, since the popularity of PTI, Wilbon has grown a huge head and is so stuck on himself that he's more worried about going out and being seen at the big city clubs. Like he's some big time celebrity.
And Magic Johnson? Yeah, Magic is one of the best players to ever dribble a basketball. But last night during ESPN's halftime "show," I heard Magic say, "Like I said before the game, if Odom, Gasol, Ariza and Fisher don't shoot well, the Lakers won't win."
Really Magic!!! That's the best your basketball mind can come up with? Duh! That's like saying the team that scores the most points will win the basketball game.
What's even worse, I'm sure on the postgame show, Magic said something like this, "I told you before the game those four players need to shoot the ball for Lakers to win. And the second half they came through." Note: I have yet to see the postgame "show."
How right you are Magic.
As for Orlando, do they really want to win Game 5 and have to travel back to LA and get blown out.