The Orlando Magic stumbled and fell, again, as they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers last night, Thursday, in Game Four of the NBA Championship Series. The score was 99-91 in overtime and proved to be very disappointing and a fingerprint of how the team has performed during the start of the series. Los Angeles now holds a commanding 3-1 lead and the Magic continue to firmly attach one hand to their collective throats.
Two of the first four games have been extended to overtime and were highly winnable for Orlando whether during regulation or in the extra period. Last night was especially exasperating.
The Magic had been up by 12 at half and then blew up in the third period, losing the lead that led to a back and forth last stanza.
Dwight Howard, Orlando's supreme force inside, struggled with his free throws hitting just six of 14 including two crucial shots missed at the end of regulation. Lakers' Derek Fisher came down and drained a long three to send the tilt into overtime. One free throw would have sent the Magic home as winners and a series that would have been knotted up at 2-2.
Anyone observing the demeanor of both squads could see as they headed to their respective benches that Orlando would have little chance to come back during the extra period.
Fisher hit a three in the extra stanza at the 31 second mark which signalled the Magic's demise.
Hedo Turkoglu missed a number of free throws for Orlando himself, surprising considering his prowess in an otherwise impressive series.
Howard was superhuman separate from his free throws, accumulating 21 boards and a NBA Finals record of nine blocked shots. He altered numerous other shots as well.
Rashard Lewis was just two of 10 from the field, this despite playing 45 minutes for the Magic.
Orlando coach, Stan Van Gundy, was remiss in not instructing guard, Jameer Nelson, to foul Fisher when he canned the regulation three to send it to O.T. Such a foul would have offered the Lakers two free throws and not the uncontested shot that Fisher uncorked.
Bad free throw shooting coupled with a questionable coaching decision has plummeted the Magic into a 3-1 deficit.
Gentlemen, take one hand off your collective throats. You'll shoot much better.
This should be your series 3-1.