It’s no secret that the Magic too often have an over-reliance on the 3-point shot. It’s also no secret that the production of Rashard Lewis has been steadily dipping over the second half of the season. Those two facts are closely related. Lewis has scored at least 25 points seven times this season. In those games 40.4 percent of his field goals were 3-pointers. In all other games, 51.1 percent of his shots were from behind the arc. See a correlation? Lewis, more than anyone else on the Magic, gets in trouble when he starts relying on the 3-point shot. The 3-pointer is enticing, it’s usually available, and it can kill you as much as it helps you. Rashard needs to be reminded that he’s 6-foot-9. He poses matchup problems not only because he can shoot from deep, but because he’s often quicker than opposing teams’ power forwards. He’s able to beat guys like Rasheed Wallace and Anderson Varejao off the dribble. But that quickness advantage is negated when teams are content letting him fire away with a hand in his face. Sure, he’ll make a couple, but a 3-for-9 or 4-for-11 is better than letting Lewis have an all-around game and really open up the offense by going inside. Lewis is averaging 8.3 points in the last four games, while shooting 19.6 percent from the field and 11.5 percent from 3-point range. The recent struggles symbolize his declining numbers throughout the season. He failed to score 20 points in all but one game in February, and he’s scored less than 10 already three times in March. He’s scored at least 25 points just once since Dec. 13. Here are his monthly splits this season:
November: 18.4 ppg, 40.9 FG%, 37.5 3P% December: 21.3 ppg, 47.4 FG%, 44.5 3P% January: 18.4 ppg, 48.1 FG%, 46.4 3P% February: 14.7 ppg, 40.0 FG%, 38.6 3P% March: 14.9 ppg, 38.7 FG%, 24.0 3P%
The Magic need more out of the $118-million dollar man. His defensive play has been solid, and he deserves praise for that — but ultimately, the way this team is built, the Magic need Lewis to score. That’s job number one.