Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Lack of Magic?

Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic shouldn't worry too much about being down 2-0 to the Los Angeles Lakers. It is not impossible to win a championship being down 2-0. Dwight should just ask his good friend, Dwayne Wade, about it. After all, the Miami Heat found themselves in the same situation against the Dallas Mavericks in 2006, before they took the next three games in Miami and returned to Dallas to close out the series.

The Magic are headed home for the next three games where they are 7-2 during the playoffs. Orlando is now 0-6 all time in the NBA Finals. Their only other appearance came in 1995 when they were swept by the Houston Rockets.

If the Magic want to beat the Lakers they will need their starting guards to join them in the trenches - until now they have been caught missing in action. Rafer Alston is averaging only 5 points, while Courtney Lee is averaging a mere 4.5 points in the first two games.

Courtney Lee had two good looks at the basket to try to win the game in regulation. One came with 9 seconds left as he slashed in between Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol, and the other came with 0.6 seconds left on a beautiful out of bounds alley-oop from Hedo Turkoglu. Neither shots fell. 

In overtime, Pau Gasol proved too much for the Magic. He scored 24 points in the game with 7 of those coming in overtime. It was a 1-point game until 1:14 remaining in OT when the Lakers opened it up to a 6 point lead. That's all the Lakers needed to close out the game. The Magic didn't help themselves by commiting 3 turnovers in OT and were unable to match the onslaught that L.A. had brought against them. 

Game three will be the turning point in this series. A 2-game deficit is difficult enough to overcome, but a 0-3 situation is very dangerous territory. If Dwight relays the message that D. Wade has to offer, it would be the exact words that Wade told himself in the 2006 NBA Finals, when the Heat were down by 16 in the 4th quarter with under 7 minutes to play:

"I'm not going out like this."

Now each and every Magic player must tell that to themselves if they wish to revive the hopes of an entire Orlando city.

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