A 19-10 lead and a terrific start in the first quarter were completely erased when the Orlando Magic lost their concentration composure and -- even worse -- their ability to maintain some semblance of an elite NBA team, never mind some decent shot selection when the LA Lakers demolished the Magic to turn a 40-36 Orlando lead into a 52-40 second quarter Lakers lead. That 16-point turn-around will be lethal.
The halftime buzzer sounded with the Lakers leading the Magic 56-46 and the Magic faithful headed to the concession stands seeking a "a double shot" of refreshment and some Advil, possibly something MUCH, MUCH stronger.
LA's Trevor Ariza was the surprise star of the first half, hitting 4-of-6 field goal attempts, including 2-for-2 from 3-point land for 12 points. LA's Kobe Bryant leads all scorers with 15 points. The Magic will need to come out and play their best quarter in team history in order to handle the onslaught that the Lakers will bring from the confidence they've built in the second quarter.
Orlando needed to keep the Lakers on their heels while applying constant defensive pressure and tons of youthful energy in order to sustain a 6-or-8 point lead throughout the half. If that were carried out methodically, LA would have folded.
Now, it looks at though Game 6 is in doubt and the NBA Finals will end with a GIANT fifth game thud.
Orlando Coach Stan Van Gundy has been totally overmatched by Phil Jackson and Lakers. Old School took him to school. The Magic had no answer and no counter moves in the terrible second quarter meltdown, and totally defensive letdown.
What a shame.
NOTE to Phil Mushnick: The 8pm Sunday night, kid-friendly starting time might not be such a good idea after all....Maybe games like this shouldn't start until 9pm so young players DON'T See them . The breakdown by the Magic in quarter #2 was not meany for young viewing eyes.