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What They're Saying Before Game 5 of the NBA Finals: Part I

  • Orlando Magic fans: You have questions, we have answers
    Brian Schmitz lists some questions and provides some answers, concerning the Orlando Magic's outlook for the remainder of the series.

  • Magic, Stan fail at basics
    Mike Bianchi chimes in on the main storyline of the NBA Finals. 

    If and when L.A. closes out the Magic to win the NBA championship, it will be portrayed nationally as the grand restoration of the storied Lakers, the coronation of Kobe Bryant as one of the greatest champions the game has ever known and the crowning of Phil Jackson as the most decorated coach in NBA history.

    Nobody will argue with that glowing national assessment, but locally it will be a much more haunting, harassing conclusion. It will not go down as the 15th NBA title the Lakers will have won; it will go down as the championship — that elusive first championship — the Magic will have lost.
  • Orlando Magic's Jameer Nelson's early return is ruining it for the team
    George Diaz wonders aloud whether or not Jameer Nelson's presence has had a negative effect for the Magic against the Lakers.

    I know we're playing a lot of "what ifs?" here. If Courtney Lee hits a layup in Game 2 and if Dwight Howard makes one stinkin' free throw in Game 4, the Magic are up 3-1 and we're having a completely different conversation.

    The buzz would still be euphoric, not depressing.

    But, as Van Gundy said, "You have to deal with reality."

    Reality is that the Magic have botched a huge opportunity to win an NBA title. Orlando could have zapped memories of that 0-4 sweep in the 1995 Finals, and in many ways it has.

    This is another infamous collapse.

    There are no tasty waves in this script, dudes, just a big splash of reality. The pain washes over Orlando today.
  • Forward Rashard Lewis falls short in Magic's Game 4 loss
    Kyle Hightower elaborates on Rashard Lewis' struggles in Game 4. 

    For a player whose game has clearly risen a notch in the playoffs, it is a lot to choke down staring at a 3-1 deficit.

    "I mean, it's the Finals — it's just tough to take any loss in the Finals because it's either do or die," Lewis said. "And not only that, [but] we dug a hole for ourselves and now we're down 3-1. And we had a chance to tie [the series] up, we gave it away. It was right in our hands to win it."
  • Bricks, but few brickbats
    Josh Robbins talks about the missed free throws that doomed Orlando. 

    The distance from the foul line to the face of the backboard is 15 feet.

    To the Orlando Magic on Thursday night, it must've felt like 15 miles.

    One of the simplest shots in basketball, the free throw generated outsized frustration in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. The Magic made just 22 of 37 foul shots, including 10 of 17 in the critical fourth quarter.

    With the Magic ahead 87-84 with 11.1 seconds remaining in regulation, Dwight Howard missed a pair of free throws. If he'd made either one of them, the Los Angeles Lakers would've needed two successful offensive possessions to stay alive in the game — not the one that Derek Fisher used to tie the score with a 3-pointer.
    UPDATE: Dwight Howard posts on his official blog and shares his thoughts.

    I don’t know what to say. I just missed my free throws. We all missed them. It was just one of those nights when they weren’t going down for us. It’s so hard to explain because I have been working so hard on my free throws and making a lot of progress the last couple of weeks, but last night just wasn’t my night.

    We feel like we let another game away from us. We had Game 2 and let the Lakers win. We feel like this one was right there for us and we gave the Lakers n ew life and they won it again in OT.

    Those kind of losses are just so hard to handle, but I’ll tell you this: We ain’t quitting now. I’m not dropping my head and I won’t allow my guys to drop their heads either. We’re not rolling over and just giving the Lakers a championship.
  • Andrew Bynum says Dwight Howard frustrated with team
    UPDATE 2:

    Andrew Bynum didn't give himself too much credit when I asked him if he was frustrating Dwight Howard in the post Saturday afternoon.

    "No, I think he's getting frustrated with his team," Bynum said. "He's open a lot more times than he's getting the ball."

    Interestingly enough, Howard had his highest number of attempted field goals in Game 4 with 12 attempts. Before that, he had just six attempts each in Games 1 and 3, and 10 in Game 2.

Make sure to check out this post every few hours for updates.