10. The biggest Magic trick of the postseason may turn out to be the illusion that Courtney Lee was ready for prime time. In the previous three playoff series, announcers were ready to declare the Magic's glaring hole at the shooting guard gone. Lee has been disappointing in the finals, but then again he is only a rookie.
9. Jameer Nelson is an All Star. But hindsight is 20/20, and it's become quite evident that he is not healthy enough to make a positive impact in this series. Although I'm sure it never runs though Stan Van Gundy's mind that, "I really needed to play Rafer Alston for 40-plus minutes," he must be aware that Nelson's play has been less than stellar. It has consequently taken time away from Anthony Johnson, a big veteran point guard, who could've help out defensively by guarding Kobe Bryant or Derek Fisher. Once again, this may be a bit of a stretch, but I can't imagine Johnson having two defensive lapses at the end of a crucial game.
8. Don't blame Rashard Lewis. He is what he is. Nevertheless, when you look at the stat sheet of a finals game, you'd have to hope your All-Star forward would score more than six points. Nevertheless, Lewis has been steady all series, the lone bright spot in the first half of Game 2 and the three-point marksmen throughout Game 3. Sure, he may act like driving the basketball is illegal, but he more than any other Magic player has refused to let the Lakers take him out of his game. In Game 4, it was just a matter of the Lakers being very geared towards limiting his open looks.
7. Turnovers. Once again, it's not all Dwight Howard's fault. Van Gundy must realize his superstar is not playing against Anderson Varejeo or Big Z anymore. Howard doesn't really have the size or speed advantage against Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. To consistently give it to him in the post is like the Lakers giving the basketball to Sasha Vujacic all game. You have to know, more often then not, bad things are going to happen.
6. Free throws. For the season, Shaquille O'Neal shot 59.5 percent from the free throw line. The Magic shot the same percentage from the line in Game 4. That's really all I need to say.
5. Phil Jackson-coached teams always make their run during the third quarter. It's a signature of all of his successful championship teams. Therefore, it was not exactly shocking to see them begin to take control of the quarter and seemingly the tempo of the game.
Why not bring the players off the bench who gave you energy in the second quarter. Marcin Gortat and J.J. Redick., yes J.J Redick, both played some solid minutes on both sides of the basketball. Honestly, it was the first time I have seen J.J. confident in his game since he was playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Dude even tried to pull the Kobe swing-through move. Someone should have told him to settle down then.
4. Free throws. I know this was already mentioned. But Dwight Howard is half-Shaq, half-Nick Anderson. Maybe instead of heaving half-court shots before games, he could take a few seconds and work on free throws. Just a thought.
3. Honestly, I don't mind Van Gundy adopting a Mike Brown philosophy when it comes to offensive strategy. If you have one play, you might as well use it, especially if your opponent can't stop it. The high pick-and-roll with Hedo Turkoglu at the top may have been more effective if Lewis had the angle for the entry pass to Howard. However, the play's timing was seemingly off all night, which seemed to frustrate Howard. Mike Breen said that Howard didn't curse. I think he probably should have added, "When he gets the ball on time."
2. Mickael Pietrus for the win. I really like Pietrus, and I don't mind him taking the shot. My problem sits with the fact that they ran the same out-of-bounds play they ran against Cleveland to free up Lewis in Game 4. First off, with 4.6 seconds left, to run a quick hitter makes little to no sense. If he misses and the Lakers call a time out, they're guaranteed the last shot. Hence, you're at the mercy of the best closer in the league. Therefore, I can live with some dribbling and a jump shot. It just probably should have been Turkoglu.
1. Scrap this list. Let's stop being politically correct. The officiating was nauseating. It felt like the Sacramento Game 7 all over again. The home team missed so many opportunities that you could easily blame them. Nevertheless, it's weird that so many close calls down the stretch went the Lakers way. Ariza's "offensive rebound" at 91-91 with just over a minute left was actually a turnover. He was clearly out of bounds.
I thought Kobe was playing like he was in the Octagon tonight. He threw two vicious elbows, and neither were addressed by the refs. It's simply not basketball. The whole outcome of the game was decided when the refs decided to swallow their whistle when Kobe elbowed Nelson. It's a fact.These are not basketball plays.
Therefore, if the basketball gods want to do justice, the Lakers can't win Game 5.