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

  • Ever-resilient Orlando Magic remain cool, confident despite 3-1 deficit to Los Angeles Lakers
    Brian Schmitz states the team doesn't appear fazed or worried at the reality its season is on the line against the Los Angeles Lakers, tonight.

    "That's what we're fixing to do, make history," shooting guard Courtney Lee said. "No team's ever done it before, so that's what we want to do."

    Lee has a world of confidence for a rookie ... a rookie who is guarding Kobe Bryant in a survival game, no less.

    He was jokingly asked if he had packed his bags for L.A., where Games 6 and 7 would be played, if necessary. He thinks they're necessary.

    "I'm going to do that when I go home, yeah," Lee said Saturday, straight-faced, not playing along with the gag.

    Lee has learned the art of swagger in his first season from a cocksure, slightly cuckoo bunch of teammates and a coach who all refuse to look at deficits as deterrents.

    "Right now," small forward Hedo Turkoglu said, "I'm just happy to be in this situation."

    See what we mean? The Magic have an unusual way of looking at things wrong side up.

    "I am happy, because it's a good time to show our character as a group. It's a good time right now," Turkoglu said. "We're a good team. We've bounced back from a lot of difficulties, so this is a good one to learn from." 
  • Win or lose Game 5, the Orlando Magic's home finale will be sweet for Magic fans
    Mike Bianchi chimes in with his thoughts before the game.

    Wouldn't it only be fitting in this wild and wacky season of Magic wins and Dwight Howard grins if this team and town experienced the greatest comeback in NBA history?

    The Magic, as they enter tonight's final home game of the season at Amway Arena, are down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Lakers -- a deficit that has never been conquered in the 62-year history of the NBA Finals. But, then again, has there ever been such a confoundingly and resoundingly resilient team than pugnacious coach Stan Van Gundy's chip-on-their-shoulder Magic?

    This is a team that has thrived on doubt and discredit throughout the playoffs. Now they have the Lakers right where they want them. Nobody, except for a few die - hards and the Magic themselves, believes this team can rally back against one of the greatest franchises, greatest players (Kobe Bryant) and greatest coaches (Phil Jackson) in NBA history.

    Dwight Howard, the team's dominating, dynamic center, says there is no doubt the Magic will win today. He says it's not a matter of if the Magic will and take this series back to the West Coast for Games 6 and 7; it's a matter of "when."

    When a hometown writer asks if he is actually guaranteeing a victory, Howard smiles and says: "I believe we're going back to L.A. , and you should, too. You're from Orlando."
  • Mark it down: The Orlando Magic will beat Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5
    George Diaz talks about the mood of the Orlando Magic players.

    My pesos are still on the Lakers, but I like Orlando's attitude facing a closeout game on its home court. [...]

    The smile is genuine, unpretentious and unfiltered.

    It belongs to Dwight Howard.

    "I think I'm a resilient type of guy," Howard said — smiling — after Saturday's practice.

    "I'm just kidding. I think I always kept my teammates at a place where they don't feel uncomfortable around me, around any situation that we're in. And you know, just try to keep everybody lighthearted."

    Howard hurt the other night after missing two critical free throws that would have given the Magic a victory and tied the series at 2 games apiece.

    You wouldn't know it from his easygoing nature after the game. He seemed almost flip about it. But it was all a brilliant disguise.

    Howard knew this wasn't the time to mope. Not when his teammates, literally and figuratively, look up to him. He refused to go into that "3-1 Lakers lead" funk.
  • Magic PG Anthony Johnson remains 'the odd man out' in NBA Finals -
    Andrea Adelson addresses the playing time conundrum Anthony Johnson is dealing with in the NBA Finals. 

  • Keeping it light

    One of the ways the Magic players kept their minds off their Game 4 misfortunes was to get far away from basketball. PG Rafer Alston spent the rest of the day with his nephew, playing NBA video games on Xbox.

    Across the way, Mickael Pietrus began his media sessions with a Borat impression, saying, "It's very nice to see you. Very nice."

    Pietrus explained that he was inspired after watching Borat Friday night.

    "Why Borat? Because I think life is good and no matter what, no matter the situation you're in, you have to get a smile on your face," he said.
  • L.A.'s Trevor Ariza not shy in face of challenge
    Kyle Hightower elaborates on Trevor Ariza's journey in the NBA, beginning in Orlando last season and culminating in Los Angeles this season.

    In a way, Los Angeles forward Trevor Ariza's heroics in the Lakers' Game 4 win over Orlando is all the culmination of one, long déjà vu.

    It might seem like more time has passed. But it was just the beginning of last season that Ariza was wearing a Magic jersey and begging for minutes on a team that had just acquired Rashard Lewis and had a Hedo Turkoglu playing in front of him.

    Staring at a payroll that had quickly become used up with Lewis' robust contract, it was no surprise last February when Magic General Manager Otis Smith dealt Ariza in a trade that sent him to L.A for Brian Cook and Maurice Evans.

    Smith said at the time that it was tough not only because he thought Ariza had untapped talent, but because he was "one of my kids."
  • Alston says the Magic need to come out with "a lot of fire" in Game 5 tonight
    UPDATE: Josh Robbins gathers the thoughts of Rafer Alston.

    The Orlando Magic looked relaxed after they completed their shoot around Sunday morning, but point guard Rafer Alston said the team's mentality was "up and down."

    "Being this far in the hole, 3-1, I think it's wavering a little bit on people's minds a little bit," Alston said. "You have only one way of dealing with it: You go out there and play tonight and put on a great performance."

    Alston said it's critical for the Magic to start the game strong.
  • Stan Van Gundy says Dwight Howard isn't getting treated fairly by the media
    UPDATE 2: Someone's angry.

    Stan Van Gundy doesn’t think Dwight Howard is getting a fair shake from the national media. Van Gundy said he recently ran into a commentator who criticized Howard’s offensive game after Howard had tough shooting nights from the floor and the free-throw line in Game 4 of the NBA Finals but also had 21 rebounds and nine blocked shots.

    The criticism of Howard ticked off Van Gundy.

    “Does he have things he needs to work on?” Van Gundy said Sunday. “Yeah, he does. He’s 23 years old for God’s sake. But can we ever talk about his positives? People don’t go out and get nine blocks and 21 rebounds in NBA Finals games. Can we give this guy the respect that he’s coming through big time in the playoffs instead of just nitpicking every little thing he can’t do?”

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