Inside the Sixers locker room: Breaking down Courtney Lee’s stellar Game 2 performance


When Philadelphia point guard Andre Miller was asked about the inspired play of Orlando Magic rookie guard Courtney Lee in Wednesday night’s Game 2, he could only shake his head in disbelief. “Well, we respect him now,” Miller said of Lee’s team-leading 24 points. “We need to put a little more focus on him. He brings confidence; he knows we are going to force him to make plays because we are focusing on Hedo, Rashard and Dwight.” Lee has been the x-factor thus far in the opening round series, averaging 21 points per game while shooting better than 50 percent (18-of-34) from the floor. On Wednesday night he helped the Magic even the series with Philadelphia at one game apiece by leading the team in scoring with 24 points while adding three steals and three rebounds and committing zero turnovers. Lee said on Wednesday night that he’s just found himself in the right place at the right time so far during the series. “It was just the way the game was going,” Lee said. “Coach was able to make reads and players were able to make reads out there, my teammates were getting me the ball in positions where I could make plays for myself and others.” As Lee took his seat next to Dwight Howard for the post game press conference, Howard was beaming like a proud papa as Lee fielded questions from the media. “In order for us to win this series and go far and deep into the playoffs, he’s going to have to play like this every night,” Howard said. “And I believe that he can do it. I’ve been telling him all season, if we’re going to win it’s going to come on him every night and play the way he’s been playing. I’m very proud of him.” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy, who shrugged off questions about Lee following Sunday night’s game, made sure to single out the play of the rookie on Wednesday. “He was tremendous today,” Van Gundy said. “…I thought that he really worked hard and he just seems to be playing more free and looser than the other guys.” While it’s expected for Van Gundy and Howard to be proud of Lee, plenty of Philadelphia players outside of Miller are impressed with Lee so far. “I think he has that mindset that people don’t respect him,” Andre Iguodala said. “He’s proven us wrong the last two games.” Louis Williams, who drew the defensive assignment on Lee for much of the second half, said it’s time the Sixers view Lee as a threat to score every time he has the ball in his hands. “We’ve got to start treating him like one of the big boys,” Williams said. “It’s not just about Dwight, Rashard and Turkoglu anymore.” Donyell Marshall, who played a vital role in Philadelphia’s Game 1 comeback, said Lee has just carried his solid late season play into the series with the Sixers. “He’s doing a good job of stepping up but he’s been used to that all year,” Marshall said. “Teams have been leaving him along and making him step up and I think it prepared him for the playoffs.” Philadelphia coach Tony DiLeo, who prior to becoming the team’s coach served in the Sixers front office, said that his team looked long and hard at Lee during the 2008 NBA Draft. “We liked Courtney Lee last year in the draft,” DiLeo said. “We knew he was a good player, he has strength, he has athleticism… He can hit the baseline shot, he can hit the pull-up jumper and he’s a good driver too … when you have those combinations it’s very tough to guard.” DiLeo added: “I think that was a very good draft pick for Orlando, he’s going to help them for years to come.”