Courtney Lee's Magic moment comes up short as Orlando loses Game 2 to the Los Angeles Lakers
Brian Schmitz looks back on a tough loss for the Orlando Magic against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Turkoglu did just about everything to get the win, playing more roles than Lakers courtside jester Jack Nicholson. He played point guard, clutch performer, passer supreme and defensive hero. He blocked Kobe Bryant's shot from behind in the last second and officials huddled to put .6 seconds on the clock.
With the Lakers expecting the alley-oop to go to Howard, Lee broke free but missed the bunny. [...]
"I tried to get it up as quick as I possibly could, but it rolled off the rim," Lee said. "Me and Turk connected, but the shot didn't fall. I don't think we lost the game just because I missed a layup, but we could have won it, yeah."
Mike Bianchi writes about Kobe Bryant's work ethic and how its influenced Dwight Howard in a positive way.
Magic must rally at home after Game 2 OT loss to Lakers
George Diaz asserts that the Magic have to conjure up its biggest comeback in the playoffs this year, starting in Game 3 tomorrow, if the team wants to beat the Lakers and win the title.
Orlando Magic look to fill their presence in the paint in Game 2
Kyle Hightower states Orlando was able to rebound and score in the paint better than Los Angeles, but the team couldn't take care of the ball.
Sunday the Magic were successful in flipping both numbers to their side, holding a 44-35 rebounding edge and 30-28 advantage in the paint.
But unfortunately there is another beaming number that will likely have Van Gundy scratching his head for the next few days: 20 turnovers.
"It crushed us in the end," Van Gundy said.
Hunting for shots
Hightower talks about the good play of Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu.
Not all Central Floridians feel the magic of the NBA Finals
Apparently, there are people in Orlando that don't care that the Magic are in the NBA Finals (to which I say, shame on them). One person, quoted by the Sentinel, even went as far to say the team didn't deserve to play for a title.
Lakers Move Closer to Another Title
Tim Povtak of NBA FanHouse recaps last night's game between the Magic and the Lakers.
No Point in Orlando's Game 2 Loss
Matt Steinmetz of NBA FanHouse gathers Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy's rationale for playing with no point guard in the fourth quarter.
"I will say this: I'm not sure I've got another lineup to throw out there that you haven't seen now," Van Gundy said. "Unless I'm going to play like Dwight (Howard), Marcin (Gortat), Tony (Battie), Rashard (Lewis) and Hedo. I don't have another one right now.
"We played with no point guard, we played conventionally, we had Rashard at the three, we played Hedo at the one, two and three. We played Rashard at the three and four. We played big, we played with no point guard. What do they say, just keep throwing stuff at the wall and hope something sticks."
Van Gundy said that what prompted his point guard-less offense was a simple matter of trying to find some scoring. Alston went 1-for-8 from the field and Nelson finished just 1-for-3.
"I thought Rafer was playing well, but they're just leaving him on every post-up, and we couldn't get the ball in the basket," Van Gundy said. "So we're just searching for someone to make a shot. That was the only thing. We were just trying to see if we could get somebody out there who would make shots off the double-team and pick-and-rolls."
When asked how he thought the Magic played when they played without a point guard, he responded: "You can decide how effective it was."
"He missed it," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I don't know what else to say. Hedo made a great pass, and we missed it. I don't really know. I'm not trying to be a pain in the butt. I just don't know what else to say about it. It was a great pass, it was right there, and he missed it." [...]
Said Bryant: "Honestly, it was just a brilliant play. It was just a very, very smart play that he drew up. He knew my eye was more on the shooters coming up. Just a hell of a play by a hell of a coach."
Lakers Have Magic on Defensive
Sean Deveney of The Baseline asserts that it was the Lakers' defense that allowed the team to win the game in overtime against the Magic.
A Career-Defining Moment, Missed
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop elaborates on how Courtney Lee had a chance to make a once-in-a-lifetime shot.
Orlando's Heavy Rotation
Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop analyzes the Magic's rotation in the NBA Finals.
Stan Van Gundy entered the NBA Finals with a full menu of options at point guard, shooting guard, and small forward. With Jameer Nelson's return from injury, Van Gundy now has, count 'em, four legitimate options at the point: Rafer Alston, Hedo Turkoglu, Anthony Johnson, and Nelson. On the wings, Van Gundy can mix and match Turkoglu with Courtney Lee, Mickael Pietrus, and J.J. Redick. Rashard Lewis even saw some time at the three Sunday night when Van Gundy went with his twin tower offense.
Van Gundy has an embarrassment of riches, and that flexibility has been one of the Magic's principal strengths throughout the playoffs. In each series, he's calibrated his rotation based on matchups. When Lee returned to action in Game 3 of the Boston series, for instance, Van Gundy went with Redick on Ray Allen, preferring to hold Lee back to chase Eddie House. The decision seemed unorthodox at the time, but like most of Van Gundy's decisions this postseason, it panned out. Allen never got going, and the Magic shut down House after he torched them in the first two games of the series.
The Magic's stacked, versatile roster has been a blessing for Van Gundy -- but two games into the Finals, it's proving to be a curse. [...]
Truth be told, an inch or two here and there could've given the Magic the win, and Van Gundy might have been heralded a genius for his tactics. There are sensible arguments on the pro and con sides of all of these issues.
Chris Sheridan of ESPN.com looks back at the final play in regulation.
NBA supervisor of officials Bernie Fryer told ESPN.com that if Gasol's hand had shaken the basket, caused the stanchion to move or touched the rim while the ball was on the rim, the correct call would have been goaltending.
But since none of those things happened, according to Fryer, "It was a cut-and-dried no-call." [...] Turkoglu's pass looked perfect, hitting Lee in flight after a pick had freed him from Bryant's defense. But Lee was sailing slightly beyond the backboard as he caught the ball, and in his attempt to get the ball back to the basket, he spun it a little too hard off the backboard. The ball banged off the rim right to Howard, who jumped, caught it and dunked it, but after the buzzer. No basket, and the game went into overtime. The Magic came up short in OT, falling behind 2-0 in the NBA Finals.
"I was just trying to catch the ball and put it in," Lee said. "I don't know if I was wide open or not. I was just looking at the ball when it was in the air and was trying to go get it and complete the play.
"You sit and groan about it just for that moment, but you still have another five minutes to go out there and play. We didn't lose the game just because I missed the layup."
Courtney Lee's Magic moment falls shot as Lakers lead Finals 2-0
Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated highlights the key moments in Game 2.
Magic issues, Odom's value, Kobe's shooting
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated provides three observations from yesterday's matchup.
Magic moment ends with miss
Johnny Ludden of Yahoo! Sports chimes on in the game.
The Magic’s chances at winning these Finals might be done, too. They jetted home with the comfort of knowing the next three games will be played in Orlando, but history offers no comfort: Of the past 12 teams to lose Games 1 and 2 of the Finals on the road, only one has rallied to win the series.
The Magic have proven their resilience time and again during these playoffs. They trailed against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. They trailed the Boston Celtics in the second. They weathered LeBron James’ miracle shot in the East finals.
But down 2-0, against these Lakers? That might be asking too much, especially when the Magic also know they wasted a terrific chance to even the series.
Behind the Box Score, where the Magic wouldn't go away
Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don't Lie offers his thoughts.
Part of this can be blamed on, "hey, they're playing a great team; things will go up and down." But we've also seen the Magic go long stretches without turning the ball over, without Los Angeles' defensive effort waning. We've seen them destroy the Lakers on the boards. Assuming the Lakers are the constant, here, which we think is the case, the gulf in greatness to great-less falls on the Magic.
Not that Stan Van Gundy isn't trying to change the shape of things. He went most of the fourth quarter and a good chunk of overtime with no point guard, which seems odd on the surface but barely registers overall when you consider the fact that Derek Fisher has essentially become a wing player (even Trevor Ariza spends more time up top on offense and defense) in this series, and Hedo Turkoglu does most of the offensive initiation for the Magic.
So why force-feed minutes to players who weren't shooting well? As Van Gundy mentioned after the game, the Lakers weren't even guarding Rafer Alston, who missed seven of eight shots, while Jameer Nelson (1-3 shooting, 2-4 free throws) just isn't there yet.
The replacements weren't much better in terms of shooting, as J.J. Redick(notes) missed seven of nine shots, but it was clear that Derek Fisher did have to stick with Redick in a way that helped Orlando's offense, even as he was missing shots. Though Alston tried, Fisher didn't stick with him. Didn't have to.
Dwyer echoes my sentiments about the guard play for the Magic (which I stated numerous times in the game thread yesterday).
Adonal Foyle on Courtney Lee
Instead of bashing Courtney Lee, how about praising the kid?
Courtney Lee is an unusuable NBA rookie. Very few late first-round picks start. Fewer still play in the NBA Finals. Almost none do both.
Lee is a 40% 3-point shooter, efficient in transition and going to the hole. He seldom turns the ball over. And on defense, he often gets very tough assignments, including plenty of time guarding the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
L.A. HELD HOMECOURT; LET’S DO THE SAME
Dwight Howard posts on his official blog, today.
Tough, tough loss last night cause we really thought we let the Lakers off the hook and should have won that game. It was there for us so many times, but we couldn’t grab it because we didn’t execute and turned the ball over too many times. [...]
My boy C-Lee had a layup right at the rim, but just missed it. That was a tough blow for us, but it shouldn’t have ever come down to that. We don’t turn the ball over as much as we did and we don’t even need the lob play there in that situation.
We Might Have to Admit the West Is Still Better
Bethlehem Shoals of The Baseline delves on the topic of East v. West.
There was no question that Orlando earned this Finals trip fair and square. Give or take a little LeBron, they were the toast of the East once they got healthy and generally playoff-oriented (which explains those Boston and Philly problems). And then, give or take a little LeBron, they trounced Cleveland, who on record alone was the best team in the entire NBA. Celtics, we love you, but even when KG was around, you weren't Boston, and you had problems with Orlando. [...]
But we have to be realistic here. The logic that our belief in the East's improvement -- or at least its consolidation up top -- had rested upon was spotty at best. When it comes down to it, conference imbalance had been going on for years. And this series might be a cruel reminder that all we thought was progress was, in fact, a step backward. Change, as Marx and Obama always told us, must begin from the bottom and work its way up. So it must be in the East, if things are really ever going to change.
UPDATE: Bradford Doolittle of Basketball Prospectus tosses in his analysis.
Orlando actually shot the ball much better in the first half than it did in its epic brickfest in Game One. The problem was Orlando just couldn't take care of the ball. The Magic committed 20 turnovers in the game and the vast majority of those miscues involved Dwight Howard. Howard committed seven turnovers, many of them as he tried to pass out of double teams. Several other turnovers came as Orlando tried to force entry passes into Howard to initiate its offense. The Lakers were determined to prevent that from happening. Pau Gasol was effective at poking the ball loose from Howard with his Plasticman arms while Bryant, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom caused havoc with their double teams. The two-man game with Howard picking high for Turkoglu was totally ineffective, with L.A. usually blitzing Turkoglu and the Lakers' weak-side defenders sagging to prevent Howard from rolling to the basket. The Magic was slow to reverse the ball and wasn't getting the open looks to which it is accustomed.
Still, the Magic could have put the game away had they shot better from the foul line. Orlando was 20-for-27, but missed five in a row during one crucial stretch of the fourth quarter. The Lakers, meanwhile, hit 14 straight free throws and went 24-for-28 for the game. The difference is huge in a game that close and it's a heck of a reason to lose a game in the NBA Finals.
Magic Blog: David Steele
UPDATE 2: David Steele discusses Game 2.
Boxscore Breakdown: Finals, Game 2
UPDATE 3: Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference breaks down the box score for Game 2 and takes a look at the advanced statistics.
Orlando Magic backcourt continues to struggle
UPDATE 4: John Hollinger of ESPN.com believes that the backcourt play for Orlando may cost them a championship.
It's par for the course for these Finals so far. Through two games, the one constant has been the inability of Orlando's guards to make shots, and it appears it may cost them a championship.
Orlando's five guards -- Lee, Rafer Alston, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus -- shot only 6-for-26 from the floor on Sunday, including 1-for-12 in their alleged specialty of 3-point shooting. This was the same group that went 14-for-43 in Game 1's blowout defeat; in total, the five players who manned the two guard spots head home to Orlando shooting a composite 29 percent for the series.
I would agree with Hollinger. The Magic backcourt has been bad in the NBA Finals, so far, and it's been a fatal blow for a team who expected to have an advantage at the point guard spot coming into the series.
The World of What Might Have Been
UPDATE 5: Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm shares his thoughts.
What I do know is this: if I’m given one play and one clipboard with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, Stan Van Gundy might get the call. He’s demanding, he’s sometimes petty or childish, and he’s hardly charismatic, but he may be the most talented in-game coach we have in the league today. If Lee hits that layup, today would be SVG Appreciation Day, and since he didn’t, I’m here to make it just that anyway. [...]
Some are of the opinion that the title is already won, and they’re entitled. But Orlando showed in Game 2 that they have the ability to recover after being beaten. If they can swipe Game 3 from behind, this may yet be a series worth noting. The Magic still have a lot to work with for a team down 0-2, and some of the credit for that goes to Hedo and his save. The fact that Orlando drowned in its cess pool of turnovers would be all that remains of a pretty fun Magic team. But they’re alive (though not well) because of the fight they showed in Game 2. It would be misguided to say that what we saw last night was the beginning of a real push for the Magic, but it was definitely a step up from the romp in Game 1. It’s an odd air surrounding a team that almost certainly coughed up a win, which is probably fitting for a Magic team that is nothing if not odd.
Magic Turnovers and Poor Transition Defense Doom Them in Game 2
UPDATE 6: Coach Bruchu notes what hurt Orlando in the loss yesterday.
- For a Lakers perspective on Game 2, check out Forum Blue And Gold, Lakers Blog, Silver Screen and Roll.
Make sure to check out this post every few hours for updates.