Orlando Magic: Rashard Lewis Proves His Worth When It Counts Most

aSenior Analyst IJanuary 20, 2017

33 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.

Who put up these numbers in a recent playoff performance?

Not Kobe. Not LeBron.

It was Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis.

A few nights ago, Lewis tore the Detroit Pistons' normally ferocious defense apart by slashing to the basket, draining threes and getting his teammates involved. With his team down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Lewis knew what he had to do when Game Three tipped off in Orlando. He had to take over.

He hit five of his six threes and shot a very impressive 73% from the field while leading the Magic to a 111-86 victory. Just when Tayshaun Prince and the Pistons starting chipping away at Orlando's lead, Lewis would knock down a big shot.

While Dwight Howard has received most of the attention throughout the course of the Orlando's playoff run, Rashard deserves some attention as well.

Who do you think is spreading the floor and allowing Howard to dominate in the paint? Who do you think has taken pressure off of Hedo Turkoglu, allowing him to have a breakout season worthy of the Most Improved Player award?

Last season, Orlando lacked a consistent scoring threat who could take over ball games and take the big shots when needed. This year, they have Lewis and Turkoglu, whose confidence has soared with Rashard alongside him.

When the Orlando Magic completed a sign and trade with the Seattle Sonics over the summer to acquire forward Rashard Lewis, there was one word that kept popping up everywhere: overpaid.

Lewis signed a six year, $110 million contract with Orlando and many people felt he wasn't worth superstar money.

He didn't have the upside of a LeBron James and couldn't take over games like a Kobe Bryant, many critics said. Talent-wise, he wasn't in the same league as those players but financially, thanks to Orlando, he was.

All year long, people kept doubting Lewis and he didn't let it effect him.

"That's basketball, you're going to get criticized. It's their job to criticize players so it don't bug me but I just have to go out there and play basketball," said Lewis in an exclusive interview with Alex Kennedy.

If he continues to "just go out there and play basketball" at this level, look for Orlando to make this series with the Pistons interesting.

Also during that interview, Lewis summed things up best saying, "The sky's the limit for this team."

Yes it is, especially if Rashard can keep his hot hand.