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Lakers-Magic: Superman, Are You Serious?

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 04:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic goes up against Pau Gasol #16 and Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game One of the 2009 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 4, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Richard O'NealSenior Analyst IJune 5, 2009

Let's face the facts here—if Dwight Howard plays like he did last night, the series will be over in three more games. 

Last night's absolute drubbing of the Orlando Magic by the Los Angeles Lakers sent a message to the Magic fans and their organization with a 100-75 defeat. 

For Magic fans, the worst part had to be looking at the box score and seeing Howard's numbers from the field, a disheartening 1-for-6.  If not for getting to the charity stripe and going 10-for-16, his bottom line would have been even scarier.  

The Magic as a whole didn't fare much better, going 23-for-77 from the field and shooting a horrendous 29.9 percent. 

If the team has any interest in getting back on track, it will have to start with Howard taking his high-percentage shots and hitting them more efficiently.  He will continue to occupy the double-teams down low, so he could have an advantage by kicking the ball out to Hedo and Rashard, who will need to hit the shots they are accustomed to hitting to get the offense in sync.

It isn't a secret that Orlando lives and dies by their three-point shooting, so there is no need to change the philosophy that got them to where they are right now.  They just need to execute and play smart.

This is just one game, and the Magic aren't used to being on this big of a stage—but they need to regroup quickly or there will be trouble in Game Two.  One of the most important factors to pay attention to is the Magic players stating that they were not ready and didn't match the intensity of the Lakers.  Orlando needs to realize the importance of having intensity, shooting well consistently, and showing the Lakers that they will not back down. 

If the Magic can't do that in the NBA Finals, we will be talking about how Kobe won his first championship without Shaq.  Dwight Howard has to realize that he is the leader of this team and if he wants them to win, he will need to set the tone from the second the ball is tossed in the air.

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