The Orlando Magic's Top Five Postseason Heartbreakers of 2009
You’ve heard it plenty of times during the playoffs: The Orlando Magic are more resilient than any team in the NBA playoffs.
However, Orlando is also the most snake-bitten team in the postseason, with several losses in the final seconds games, many after holding double-digit leads.
The Magic have also endured two overtime losses to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy has been derided for his team’s inability to hold onto leads and execute at the end of games.
This slideshow examines some of Orlando’s worst losses and presents an opportunity to decide if the coach should be blamed or if the players are responsible for a lack of execution in crunch time.
No. 1: LeBron James Makes a Miracle Shot
The Play: The Magic went up 95-93 on a Hedo Turkoglu jumper with one second remaining.
One second was too much time for LeBron who rose up and saved the game, but not the series for the Cleveland Cavs.
Coach is the Goat: Van Gundy didn’t double LeBron. Instead, the team used Rashard Lewis to pressure Mo Williams on the inbound pass.
The coach also chose Hedo Turkoglu to guard James instead of Mickael Pietrus or Rashard Lewis.
More Like Scapegoat: LeBron James made an incredible shot but could he have converted two or three free throws if he was fouled?
Should Hedo have forced a tougher entry pass and a more difficult look at the rim for LeBron? LeBron caught the ball and shot it the same way he would have if he was unguarded.
Sometimes Bad Things Happen to Good Teams: Van Gundy put a big man on the smaller Mo Williams to hinder the inbound pass.
Turkoglu couldn’t have played better defense without fouling LeBron James. It happens: Great players make great plays.
2. Derek Fisher’s Three-Pointer Sends Game into Overtime
Coach is the Goat: This time, Van Gundy used Turkoglu and Pietrus to double Kobe in the backcourt, forcing someone else to receive the inbounds pass.
Nelson, who was activated for the NBA Finals after a shoulder injury sidelined him for four months, was not the best option for such a crucial situation.
Nelson was tired after playing the entire fourth quarter. He’s also the Magic’s shortest player and with better defensive options like Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston, Van Gundy made a big mistake.
Alston was the hero in the Magic’s only Finals win and scored 20 points while playing the entire game.
More Like Scapegoat: Prior to the biggest play of the NBA Finals thus far, Orlando was up 87-84 when Bryant fouled Dwight Howard with 11 seconds left in the game.
Dwight Howard could have iced the game with two free throws and all the Magic needed was one free throw to make it a two-possession game. Howard missed both shots, giving the Lakers all the momentum and a chance to send the game into overtime.
With the Lakers inbounding in the backcourt, Van Gundy used his quickest player, Nelson, who could have frustrated the slower Fisher all the way to the frontcourt, taking precious seconds off the clock.
There’s no way Van Gundy planned on Fisher having nothing but open space in front of him when Fisher received the ball in the backcourt, and Nelson didn’t contest the shot well, lagging behind the three-point line as Fisher nailed the shot.
Rashard Lewis reverted to his Game One form when he scored eight points, shooting 2-of-10 for six points, continuing to puzzle everyone after scoring 34 points in Game 2 and 21 points in Game Three.
Sometimes Bad Things Happen to Good Teams: Fisher made a huge shot when everyone was expecting Kobe to decide the game.
Nelson did a good job of catching up to Fisher after misplaying the Lakers’ inbounds play, and he jumped to contest Fisher’s shot without fouling him.
3. Courtney Lee Misses Alley-Oop to Win Finals Game Two
The Play: The game was tied 88-88 with 0.6 seconds left in the game. Lewis makes a great screen on Kobe Bryant to free Courtney Lee.
Hedo, a great passer especially skilled at lobbing the ball toward the basket, threw a beautiful alley-oop to Lee who missed the layup.
Coach is the Goat: Prior to the final play of the game, the Magic had a chance to take the lead when Lee missed another shot.
Van Gundy could have set up a better play for what was presumed to be the Magic’s last possession.
More Like Scapegoat: Against all odds, Van Gundy prepared an excellent play that would have been successful if Lee converts the layup.
The screen worked to perfection as no one expected Lee to run out for the last shot.
Lewis taking Bryant out of the play: Check. Turkoglu throwing a great entry pass: Check. Lee converting the shot: No luck here.
Sometimes Bad Things Happen to Good Teams: Lee did a great job of getting open but his momentum was carrying him out of bounds and he was unable to make the shot to win the game.
4. Glen “Big Baby” Davis Makes Orlando Cry with Huge Shot at the Buzzer
The Play: The Magic were up by one, 94-93, with 11.3 seconds left in the game after Rashard Lewis converted two free throws.
As the clock approached zero Paul Pierce, guarded by Lewis, works off a Davis screen.
Lewis and Dwight Howard, who was guarding Davis, jump out at Pierce. Pierce recognizes the double-team and passes to Davis, who hits a buzzer beater for the win.
Coach is the Goat: There should have been no double-teams, especially off of Davis who had hit some big shots in the fourth quarter and finished with 21 points.
More Like Scapegoat: Either Howard or Lewis should have chased Lewis. The players should have communicated better to react quicker to the screen.
Sometimes Bad Things Happen to Good Teams: Pierce normally shoots the ball in critical situations for the Celtics, and Lewis and Howard did a good job of taking the ball out of his hands and forcing Davis to make the biggest shot of his life.
5. Andre Iguodala Nails Game-Winning Jumper
The Play: The score was 98-98 when Andre Iguodala took the inbounds pass. Hedo guarded Iguodala as he let the clock wind down. With 2.2 seconds left, Iguodala rose up for the winning shot, redemption after he missed two free throws at the one-minute mark.
Coach is the Goat: Almost everyone in the building knew that Iguodala would shoot the last shot for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Van Gundy could have used Mickael Pietrus on Iguodala considering this was Turkoglu’s first game back from an ankle injury which forced him to miss the Magic’s last two regular season games.
More Like Scapegoat: The Magic had plenty of chances to win this game after leading by as many as 18.
While up 98-95 with 34 seconds left, no one was within five feet of Donyell Marshall when Andre Miller threw an inbounds pass to the sharpshooter, who was camped at the three-point line. Lewis ran out at Marshall but it was too late. Marshall hit a huge three-pointer to tie the game.
In the Magic’s ensuing possession, Lewis would miss the Magic’s last shot of the game.
Sometimes Bad Things Happen to Good Teams: Hedo played solid defense on Iguodala was stuck to him like superglue. Just a great shot by Iguodala.
Bonus: Turkoglu Hits Buzzer-Beater in Game Four v. 76ers
The Play: With the game tied at 81 and the clock winding down, the Magic went to Hedo Turkoglu. Turkoglu didn’t disappoint, shooting a three-pointer over Thaddeus Young to avenge Young’s game-winning layup in Game Three and tie the series at 2-2.