Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Across the Pond:
Magic Ace the “Character Building Game” and “We Have a Series!”
By Terry Lyons
ORLANDO, USA – The character building “Big Game 3" of the 2009 NBA Finals did just that – it built the very foundation of a model NBA franchise, that has only seen the promised land of the NBA Finals twice in its existence. The “Big Game 3” victory built the character of the young Orlando Magic. It certainly secured the long-term future of an NBA expansion club which put the finishing touches on NBA’s late ‘80s growth to the southeast United States when the team hung its opening night banner in sunny, central Florida, USA some 20 years ago and will pave the way for the team to open a brand new arena a few blocks west of their now-dated Amway Arena.
The victory was the first Finals win for a club which recorded an 0-6 record in only two championship series appearances in its history.
Yes, the Orlando Magic came of age tonight and the exciting, young club remains a serious threat to the Los Angeles Lakers in this NBA championship battle. If the Magic can continue to play the kind of basketball they portrayed tonight, they can force the series back to Los Angeles where the Lakers will have to defend the home court advantage they gained during the NBA’s long regular season. The Magic won the game in the first half as it was a highly entertaining game where each team shot scorching percentages from the field. (Orlando 75% and LA 54%).
In the final boxscore report, the Magic displayed a balanced scoring attack with three players scoring over 20 points and an amazing shooting display of 40-of-65 accuracyfor a stunning 62.5 team percentage, an NBA Finals record. The Magic only faltered late in the third quarter when guard Rafer Alston tried to take on too much responsibility as he forced the ball and thus, forced the Magic offense into turnovers and poorly executed shots. To succeed, the Magic need to move, space and work the ball to get open ‘looks’ from their top outside shooters (Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Mickael Pietrus. However, their Number 1 option of hitting center Dwight Howard inside for baby hook after baby hook should remain “the” game plan for the Magic in the same way the Lakers of Yesteryear, via play calls form Coach Pat Riley, regularly called for the "fist" to indicate to legendary point guard Magic Johnson to get the ball into the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and “sky-hook” extraordinaire Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Now, Howard is no Kareem, but he can be a dominant force inside and out. And, keep in mind, young Dwight Howard is just a babe. He will be the backbone and foundation of the American team come the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
In the postgame analysis, Orlando Coach Stan Van Gundy bounded into the interview room with a bit of a high-step and a voice of confidence. His counterpart, Phil Jackson, the legendary coach of Chicago Bulls teams of the ‘90s and the Lakers of the year 2000-plus, showed his usual air of cool, calmness. Phil and his cast of Big Chief Triangle assistants will be reviewing tape until sun-up.
“I’ve said it throughout the season and throughout these playoffs,” noted Van Gundy, “The one thing that you can’t question with our team is their resilience in situations like this, whether it’s from game-to-game or minute-to-minute. Our team will keep playing.
“We’ve had bad games, like Game 1 of this series, but it’s never a matter of our resilience or quitting or anything like that.”
Kobe Bryant had an interesting take on the Magic’s performance in Game 3, stating, “This is a tough team. This ain’t no cup-cake team,” said Bryant in a tone portraying the utmost respect and his sincere compliment of the young Orlando team.
“Well, I mean, this is a team that’s been through adverse situations. They went to Boston and won Game 7 and went to Cleveland and almost took the first two there. They are extremely well coached, they execute well and we’ve got our work cut out.”
The work begins at practice later today (June 10th), and continued when Game 4 is played on Thursday, June 11th. The nay-sayers who swing with the pendulum of an NBA Finals series are no longer talking ‘sweep’ and no longer looking to book flights on Friday morning.
They’ll be a nice, long weekend of pro basketball in Orlando, Florida and the Lakers and Magic will put it all on the line come Thursday night in downtown Orlando.
Terry Lyons, Contributor
A former communications and media executive at the NBA, Terry has behind-the-scenes knowledge that few others could boast. His vast experience, contacts list and knowledge of the game make him a star asset to 24/7's writing team. Lyons is currently running his own communications firm in Boston, Massachusetts while proudly helping the management team of his favorite restaurant, “Johnnie’s on the Side” at 138 Portland Street, a block from the TD Bank Boston garden.
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