A few reasons for optimism after last night’s loss

If you’re a Magic fan, you’re surely not feeling very good right now, as the Lakers just gave the Magic their worst loss of the playoffs and sent us all tumbling back to reality. But look at the bright side: things aren’t going to get worse than they were last night. While you’re probably feeling like this is going to be 1995 all over again, it’s likely not going to be a four-and-door series. There are some reasons for positive thoughts going forward. 1. The Magic will adjust to L.A.’s adjustment. If coaching in the NBA Finals is a game of chess, Phil Jackson just took Stan Van Gundy’s queen. The Lakers took everyone by surprise by practically abandoning the triangle offense in the second quarter, instead utilizing the pick-and-roll to free up Kobe Bryant for open mid-range looks. The Magic clearly hadn’t planned on this, as they looked confused and out of sync on defense. If you want a guide on how to NOT defend the pick-and-roll, watch last night’s game. The Magic will adjust going forward, as a few minor tweaks will force the Lakers into something else (i.e. crowd Kobe Bryant). 2. Orlando won’t shoot worse than that. The Magic shot 29.9 percent, their worst shooting percentage in 102 games this season. A lot of it had to do with the Lakers’ fantastic length, rotation and help defense, and some of it had to do with Orlando missing open looks. The Magic sunk 12 of 45 outside jumpers (26.6 percent) and were outscored by 34 points in the paint. Orlando’s four starters besides Dwight Howard went 10-for-40 from the field, and Mickael Pietrus was the team’s leading scorer. Those things won’t happen again, provided the team starts moving the ball around and works from the inside-out (and not just Dwight — penetration from the guards, too). 3. Jameer Nelson will get better, hopefully. After an inspiring first few minutes where Nelson found several open teammates for lay-ups and hit an open jumper, Nelson went cold and the offense went stagnant. Nelson admitted to feeling out of rhythm after the game, and it clearly showed. His long-range jumper simply wasn’t there, in a major way – watching him throw up a couple air balls was painful to watch. Was it a matter of rust or injury? The answer to that question will play a big role in this series. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nelson play 30+ minutes by Game 3.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily