Magic Lose Game 5, Finals to Lakers, Offseason Decisions Loom


The Los Angeles Lakers did not panic at all after going down 15-6 in the first quarter and wound up with an easy 99-86 victory in game 5 Sunday night. Kobe Bryant scored 30 points and was named Finals MVP. Dwight Howard scored just 11 points. The Magic were lead by Rashard Lewis’ 16 points.

I honestly can’t think of one Magic player who was playing well with the exceptions of Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee in the first half. Both players started off hot but took long breaks and quickly cooled off. Once again, the obviously rusty Jameer Nelson took too many minutes from Alston. The Magic repeated many of their same mistakes previous games. Dwight Howard was in foul trouble and the Lakers dominated the glass. They outrebounded the Magic 47-36 with Pau Gasol and 6th man Lamar Odom grabbing 25 boards between them. Phil Jackson said that Odom would be the difference in the series and by averaging 13.4 ppg and 7.8 rpg, he clearly played a huge role in the Lakers victory. Odom only really had one off game; game 3 when he scored just 11 points and gathered just 2 rebounds and not surprisingly this one Orlando’s lone victory. He only got 9 and 5 in game 4 and the Lakers needed a last second three to win that game. Odom hit two consecutive 3 pointers after the Magic pulled to within 58-53 on Rafer Alston’s third quarter three to give the Lakers and 11 point lead and really put the game away.

Dwight Howard averaged 15.2 rpg and 4 bpg but shot very poorly averaging just 15.4 ppg and shooting 49% from the field and never making more than 5 field goals in one game. Dwight also shot 60% from the line including missing several key free throws after shooting over 70% in the Eastern Conference Finals. Of course, his rebounding and shot blocking are better than any other players in the league, but his offense needs a lot of work. Dwight has acknowledged this and has vowed to spend his entire off-season in Orlando improving his offensive game. He’s a great player, the best big man in basketball, and he can get MUCH better. A full off season in Orlando without the Olympics getting in his way should make Howard a much more refined offensive player next season.

The Magic do not have a lot of cap room but with developing back-up big man Marcin Gortat and the Magic’s leading playmaker, Hedo Turkoglu,  entering free agency, it should be a wild off-season. Turkoglu’s agent today told the Orlando Sentinel that he would be opting out of his current 6 year, 36 million dollar contract. Many people questioned that deal at first, but who what a bargain that turned out to be! Rafer Alston has one year left on his contract and with All Star Jameer Nelson already playing and expected to be 100% healthy in training camp, Alston could be a good trading piece for a team without a first round picked (traded to Houston for Alston). There are a lot of questions surrounding the Magic and plenty of room for improvement. Should the Magic let Turk walk away and try to sign a traditional PF, letting Rashard Lewis slip back to his normal position of Small Forward? Or should they attempt to bring back Turk and keep the Eastern Conference Champions in tact? Will Courtney Lee be able to create his own shots and score more often? Can Jameer duplicate his performance during the 2009 prior to his injury? Who is going to get in the big man rotation with Gortat’s probable departure and Tony Battie being 33 years old? Will the Magic attempt to trade into the first round and try to follow up their first good first round pick outside of Howard in years? Or will Otis Smith make a gigantic move that nobody saw coming (I’m pretty sure that’s a no)? Whatever happens, it should be an exciting offseason.