The Los Angeles Lakers are the 2008-09 NBA Champions. The End. P.S. Thanks very much for skimming through my prattle over the last 6+ weeks. It's been fun to put together...The 2009-10 season kicks off in Blazerland in about 10 days and I'm already looking forward to that. We'll see ya here next year, Boss willing... (Click on through for the Final Reckoning from Central Florida...)
The Los Angeles Lakers are the 2008-09 NBA Champions.
Thanks very much for skimming through my prattle over the last 6+ weeks. It's been fun to put together...The 2009-10 season kicks off in Blazerland in about 10 days and I'm already looking forward to that. We'll see ya here next year, Boss willing...
(Click on through for the Final Reckoning from Central Florida...)
Hey! You didn't click that link for THE BASKETBALL JONES above like you were supposed to, did you?!? Maybe this video embed of the same link is more alluring... (Ha ha, there's a little snippet of Dirt Bike Annie's "Are Your Ready for the Summer?" during the break — I know them, they'll be stoked!)
Orlando Magic's Beautiful Playoff Runs Ends with Loss to L.A. Lakers in NBA Finals
by Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel
On opening night in October, the festivities called for the Orlando Magic's starters to be placed on Olympic-style pedestals during introductions, an idea that rankled all-star center Dwight Howard. "We haven't done anything yet," he said.
On the closing night of the season on Sunday, Howard witnessed something that also unnerved him - a celebration on an elevated stage by the Los Angeles Lakers at Amway Arena.
The Lakers defeated the Magic 99-86 to win the NBA title, their 15th as a franchise, but Howard and the team came away feeling they had sprinted past expectations.
"We had a great season," Howard said. "Nobody thought we'd get this far."
Howard wanted to stay on the bench and watch the Lakers' group-hug around the trophy, asking point guard Jameer Nelson to join him.
"Dwight wanted me to sit with him and let it soak in. To get that feeling, like, let's remember this," Nelson said. "It hurts, but you got to take something from this and come back stronger."
The Lakers closed out the series 4-1, ending the Magic's memorable ride though a 59-win season, an Eastern Conference championship and three postseason series wins.
"I don't know if you can console anybody," Coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It's very difficult." * * *
Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard Can't Get It Going in Game 5 Against the Lakers
by Kyle Hightower, Orlando Sentinel
* * *
After missing two late free throws that could have secured the win in regulation and tied the series at 2-all, a lot of fingers were pointed at Howard. The criticism came despite a night that to that moment had been one of his most memorable of the Finals with 16 points, 21 rebounds and nine blocks.
"I've was thinking about that all day," Howard said. "[It was] the last shoot-around in Orlando. Last game of the year ... I just need to go out and have fun ... and do what people said we couldn't do."
Faced with a Finals' hole that no team had ever crawled out of, Howard went into his last game of the season at Amway on Sunday hopeful that both he and his team could find redemption.
While the sentiment was clearly there, enough of the basketball wasn't Sunday as Howard struggled with foul trouble and never got going and the Lakers claimed their 15th NBA title, 99-86.
He was stifled almost from the opening tap, with just three points, four rebounds and an assist in the opening 12 minutes.
He picked it up some before the break, adding six more points (3-for-3 from the field) and two more boards, but was tormented down low by the Lakers' big men as the Magic fell into a 56-46 halftime pit.
"They made a run and instead of playing like we did all season, we kind of put our heads down," Howard said. * * *
Turkoglu Will Opt Out of Contract with Magic, Become Free Agent
by Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel
The agent for Hedo Turkoglu told the Sentinel on Monday that the Orlando Magic small forward will opt out of his contract and become a free agent in two weeks.
"It would make sense for him to opt out," Lon Babby, Turkoglu's agent said by phone. "I can't imagine a scenario in which he would not."
The Magic, fresh off an appearance in the NBA Finals, will be challenged to keep their core group together with Turkoglu and center Marcin Gortat testing the free-agent waters. The Magic already have tied up Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson to large, long-term deals.
The club can make the point moot if they re-sign Turkoglu before he officially announces he will opt out of his contract on June 30, the first day would-be free agents can declare.
The Magic have wanted to avoid paying the punitive luxury tax, but team president Bob Vander Weide said recently that the club could change that stance to accommodate Turkoglu.
Babby had no comment on that development.
Turkoglu is scheduled to make $7.3 million next season in the final year of a six-year, $36 million deal.
Babby expects the market for Turkoglu — a versatile 6-10 forward who can run an offense — to be "robust." * * *
Magic G Mickael Pietrus Insists Life is Good, Despite Losing Bid for NBA Title
by Illiana Limón, Orlando Sentinel
Mickael Pietrus insists he has no regrets.
Pietrus didn't flash his thousand-watt smile minutes after the Magic fell 99-86 to the Lakers and Los Angeles clinched the NBA title on Sunday night, but he still managed to put a positive spin on Orlando's playoff run.
"It was a wonderful experience," he said. "I always dreamed about making it to the NBA Finals and this team worked very hard together. It was very special for us. I wish we could have won the championship, but we learned a lot as a team."
Pietrus is one of many Magic players who has displayed a remarkable ability to shrug off adversity.
He said he doesn't think about missing an off-balance jumper in the waning seconds of regulation during a pivotal Game 4 that could have given Orlando another precious win. And he refuses to discuss any of his defensive decisions or errant shots throughout the playoffs.
"The Lakers played very well and we hope to do the same thing they did next year," Pietrus said. "They went to the NBA Finals and lost last year. This year, they came back stronger and they are champions. We will work hard this offseason and want to become champions."
It's the same optimistic outlook Pietrus has been pushing all season.
He doesn't get as much attention as smile king Dwight Howard, but he proved to be a happy-go-lucky tour de force for the Magic.
"I think life is good and no matter what, no matter the situation you're in, you have to get a smile on your face," he said. * * *
Alston Brushes Off Controversy
by Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel
To understand just how divisive the Orlando Magic's NBA Finals point guard controversy became, know this: A smattering of boos greeted usual fan-favorite Jameer Nelson when he entered Game 5 with 1:40 remaining in the first quarter.
And now that the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Magic 99-86 Sunday and captured the championship by winning four of five Finals games, whether Nelson should've played against the Lakers at all after missing four months due to injury likely will remain a point of contention.
But on Sunday night alone, it was tough to blame the Magic's loss on Nelson. Starter Rafer Alston - not Nelson - was in the game for Los Angeles' entire 16-0 second-quarter run, which saw the Lakers turn a 40-36 deficit into a 52-40 lead.
"We lost a little bit of our mental toughness, our mental edge at that point," Alston said in the quiet Magic locker room.
Alston finished with 12 points, three assists and three turnovers in 33 minutes. He made just 5 of 15 shots from the field.
Nelson had five points, four assists and one turnover in 13 minutes. He made 2 of 7 shots.
After he was benched for the entire fourth quarter in Game 4, Alston played aggressively in Game 5. In Sunday's opening quarter, he scored six points, had an assist and two rebounds.
But the pace didn't continue for him - or for the Magic. After the Magic's dismal second quarter, Alston gave the team some hope by making a 3-pointer from the right corner in with 7:45 left in the third to cut L.A.'s lead to 58-53.
But Alston's frustration mounted. Trailing 73-58, Dwight Howard blocked a shot, and Alston controlled the ball. He threw the ball far down the court to sprinting Mickael Pietrus, and the ball clanged off Pietrus' hands for a turnover. On the Magic's next possession, Alston missed a layup. Seconds later, Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy subbed Alston out for Nelson with 1:38 remaining in the third quarter. * * *
Scenes from the Somber Magic Locker Room after Game 5
by Josh Robbins, Orlando Sentinel Magic BasketBlog
A horde of reporters, newspaper cameramen and television cameramen waited outside the Orlando Magic locker room as the Los Angeles Lakers celebrated their NBA title Sunday night on the floor of Amway Arena.
NBA Commissioner David Stern went into the Orlando locker room, then exited five minutes later. Magic Owner Rich DeVos left separately, saying cheerfully, "Good night, everyone!"
Then, the doors opened. Predictably, it was perfectly quiet in there, except for the sound of running water.
Dwight Howard sat in his leather chair, looking downward, texting on his cell phone.
Rashard Lewis spoke to the media first, followed by Rafer Alston and Jameer Nelson.
When asked what happened in the second quarter, Alston said, "We just lost a little bit of our mental toughness, our mental edge, at that point.... We stopped doing it defensively. We stopped getting up and down the floor offensively. We started playing right into their hands as far as turnovers were concerned, and we could never regroup from there."
Alston said he never looked over his shoulder in Game 5 to see if Nelson was coming into the game.
Nelson said he had no regrets about returning to play in the Finals after his four months away to heal from his shoulder injury.
Still, he said he was replaying certain plays from the past five games in his mind.
"Right now, it seems like every mistake that I made, me individually, is on my mind," he said. "It just hurts."
Magic's Bid for NBA Title Ends as Lakers Win Game 5
by Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel
* * *
The Lakers stole the Magic's basketball legacy in 1996 when Shaq abandoned Orlando to make bad rap albums, bad movies and play great basketball in L.A. Now, the Lakers have kidnapped another championship that dejected Magic fans feel today should have been theirs.
And is there anything worse than watching opposing players celebrate on your home court after they've just blown you off of it?
It's such a hopeless, helpless feeling — sort of like when a biker gang crashes Little Susie's Sweet 16 party. Afterward, Magic center Dwight Howard and point guard Jameer Nelson sat alone on the bench and watched the Lakers hug and high-five.
"We wanted to experience what it felt like," Nelson said, "because we never want to feel this way again. It's just an empty feeling watching another team win a championship in your house."
Did the Lakers really need another title? Series MVP Kobe Bryant has four of them, but this was his first without Shaq. Coach Phil Jackson has an NBA-record 10 titles and a ring for every finger. As a franchise, the Lakers have won an astounding 15 championships.
It's too bad such a delirious Magic season has to come to such a disappointing climax. What a shame this joyous pleasure cruise ended like a boat mired in the muck of Lake Apopka.
The Magic were never in the game after the Lakers went on a 16-0 in the second quarter. Where was their deadly 3-point shooting (only 8-of-27 from beyond the arc)? And what happened to their Big Three of Howard (11 points), Hedo Turkoglu (12 points) and Rashard Lewis (6-of-19 from the floor)?
Should Magic fans be disappointed today? Absolutely.
Should Magic fans be despondent today? Absolutely not. * * *
Face It, Orlando, We're Lucky To Be Here
by George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel
* * *
The Magic broke a lot of hearts Sunday night, hearts that had come to believe in the grit and greatness of this team. Fans who had come to embrace the zaniness of their frenetic coach and the playful giant who brought the thunder every night. Fans who whimsically danced so many nights away, partying like it was 1995.
And then this. Lakers 99, Magic 86.
But ... and why?
Everyone knew that Orlando only had a sliver of a chance to become the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals.
But ... this?
A flurry of turnovers, missteps and mistakes. The Magic bumbled their way through the evening, turning the Am into a roadhouse version of the Staples Center. It was an embarrassing way to say goodbye to the season.
You lose, you lose. But you always play hard. Always. The Magic only did that in spurts Sunday.
And that's how you get blown out by a superior team. The Lakers deserved to be champions. They found ways to close out games in the clutch, unlike the Magic, who lost two of these matchups in overtime.
What happened to the resilient team that overcame so much? * * *
Los Angeles Lakers 99, Orlando Magic 86
by Ben Q Rock, Third Quarter Collapse (SBN)
The NBA's 2008/09 season ended Sunday night when the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic, 99-86, to win their 15th NBA title.
Finals MVP winner Kobe Bryant tallied 30 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocked shots to cap off a tremendous series, while the tandem of Pau Gasol (14 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Lamar Odom (17 points, 10 rebounds) controlled the paint. * * *
Be it the cloudy skies or the unusual number of Lakers fans in attendance, but this game had a certain ominous feeling to it, as though Orlando was simply fated not to fare so well.
Even after the first quarter, one got the sense it would not be the Magic's night. The Lakers were quicker to every loose ball and enjoyed a heathy, 16-11 advantage on the glass.
Dwight Howard couldn't buy a free-throw attempt no matter how hard he got hit — this is not a dig at the officials, who "let the players play," so to speak, on both ends of the floor throughout the game — Lewis couldn't find the range, and Hedo Turkoglu didn't have any room to shoot as former Magic forward Trevor Ariza blanketed him better than anyone else I've ever seen; and yes, that includes noted Magic-killer Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons.
As has been their wont, the Lakers left the Magic's iffy backcourt of Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston tee-off, a decision that worked out well for L.A. Lee had his finest game of the Finals offensively (12 points, 5-of-11 shooting, mostly good choices), but Alston clanked his fair share of open jumpers, doing his part to help the Lakers' defense and transition game. * * *
Orlando was simply helpless tonight offensively. Howard couldn't work inside, nobody could make a jump shot, and free throw attempts came at a premium. The Magic would have needed to play lock-down defense in order to win tonight, and that didn't happen.
The Lakers have Orlando's double-team schemes all figured out, and moved the ball beautifully to find the open man on the perimeter, and in this way some of what they did offensively tonight resembled what the Magic are able to do against most defenses in this league. They made Orlando pay, with 8 treys in 16 attempts. But they didn't need the long-ball to stay in the game.
Gasol and his array of post moves were too much for the Magic to handle, while Bryant hit some fairly well-defended two-pointers himself.
The Lakers weren't exactly an offensive juggernaut tonight, but they nonetheless got the job done against what was the league's best defense during the regular season. Tonight's game — and hell, this entire series — is a case of one team simply bringing more to the court than the other one. * * *
Magic Were Outmatched in the Finals, but that was One Amazing Season
by Zach McCann, Orlando Magic Daily (True Hoop)
At this point, I don't feel any sense of disappointment, frustration or regret. How can you? The Lakers easily mulled through the Magic to capture their 15th championship, and they did so in dominating fashion it.
There's not a person in the world who can say the Magic are better than the Lakers. And when you can say that, losing hurts a lot less.
The sting especially softens when your team didn't fail because of dumb turnovers, poor coaching or lack of effort. None of that was the problem. The Lakers were simply better than the Magic.
If the Magic are a heavyweight, the Lakers are a super heavyweight. The Magic simply couldn't trade punches with the Lakers, who are too good, too deep and too versatile. They're built with the ability to counter anything the Magic could throw at them. And they're killers - when they see blood, they attack.
The Magic's only hope was to shoot 62 percent like they did in their only win of this series. That wasn't happening tonight.
Toward the end of the second quarter, as the Lakers completed a 16-0 run that wiped out a hot Magic start, it was clear. The players, coaches, and fans of both teams knew it was only a matter of time till this thing was over.
The 5 percent of the arena wearing purple and gold began to sound a lot louder. Each Magic basket was greeted with half-hearted cheers. It was beginning to sink in. The Lakers were going to win the NBA championship on Orlando's home floor. * * *
by Maxwell Effort, The Puns Are Starting to Bore Me (Bloguin)
The final buzzer has sounded on the Orlando Magic's season and we get to watch the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate a NBA championship at the Amway Arena.
Considering I did not expect the Magic to be in this position during the season nor in the playoffs I am pretty darn satisfied with this season. You simply cannot fault the effort or the desire that this team showed. They just ran into what might be the most talented team in basketball playing fantastic team ball at a very high level.
This was more so about the Lakers as a whole than it was about Kobe Bryant. Though he was great like always and the national media can now resume their Kobe vs. Jordan talks the fact of the matter is that this was a total team effort.
The front court of Gasol and Odom were just fantastic on both ends of the floor and did a great job on Dwight and Rashard. Trevor Ariza was relentless on both ends of the floor as well bothering Hedo on basically every possesion and hitting 3's at a clip that I for one never thought he could. Written off by most except his team Derek Fisher was able to provide the heroics the Lakers needed to get to tonight's closeout game.
In closing out the finals one last thought keeps running through my mind and it has to do with the experience factor. I know Stan kind of laughed at the notion of experience but deep down he cannot believe that. He would never provide his team with an excuse but I will give a minor one.
No matter how many basketball games you play at various levels Game 1 (first of the finals) and Game 5 (the closeout game) have to be different than anything you have ever faced. The Lakers simply executed better on both ends of the floor in both and the Magic never really had a response. * * *
Game 5: Los Angeles Lakers 99, Orlando Magic 86
by Philip Rossman-Reich, The Curse of the Big Aristotle
It has been an incredible ride. The Orlando Magic proved their critics wrong and reached the NBA Finals for the second time in franchise history.
Dwight Howard proved to be Superman throughout the postseason. Rashard Lewis earned his paycheck on numerous occasions. Hedo Turkoglu was, Hedo Turkoglu.
No one thought this team would make it this far. Orlando dethroned the champs. Dethroned the King. And did it through adversity and resolve.
All these accomplishments do not make it any easier to see the Los Angeles Lakers walking away with the title on the Amway Arena court (do not know if it would have been any easier to see them do it at the Staples Center). Los Angeles was the better team this series and deserve their trophy. A congratulations is certainly in order.
When push came to shove Sunday night in Game Five, Orlando did not have enough fight left in them to extend the series. The Magic came out on fire and took an early nine point lead.
In the middle of the third quarter, Los Angeles used a 16-0 run to take the lead at the half and never really never looked back. The Magic never got close and watched the Lakers maintain the lead.
Orlando started pressing and trying to force things, succumbing to frustration in taking bad shots. Los Angeles, on the other hand, could not miss. Lamar Odom was draining 3-pointers as was Trevor Ariza. And Kobe Bryant was, finally, efficient Kobe Bryant. * * *
This was ultimately not Orlando's year. It was Los Angeles'. * * *
NBA FInals Game 5: Lakers 99 Magic 86
by Mike from Illinois, Orlando Magic Blog
Congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers, who won their 15th championship in franchise history, and Lakers' coach Phil Jackson, who won his tenth championship as coach, the most in North American pro sports history. Kobe Bryant was named the Finals MVP.
The Magic started out fast, as they jumped out to a 19-10 first quarter lead, but the Lakers cut the lead to 28-26 after one. The tide really turned against the Magic in the second quarter, when the Magic had a 40-36 lead. The Lakers proceeded to score 16 points in a row to go ahead 52-40, and made eight of their last nine shots in the quarter to lead 56-46 at the half. The Magic made just two of their last twelve shots of the half, and committed four turnovers in that span. * * *
Other game notes and stats:
- The Lakers dominated most statistical categories as they outshot the Magic from the field, three point line and free throw line along with outrebounding the Magic and one less turnover.
- The "Big Three" of the Magic (Howard, Lewis, and Turkoglu) combined to score just 41 points.
- Lewis and Turkoglu combined to shoot just 10 of 27 from the field.
- Alston and Lee combined to shoot 10 of 26 from the field.
- Lewis, Lee, and Alston combined to shoot 4 of 20 from three point range.
- J.J. Redick led the Magic reserves with 8 points on 3 of 3 shooting.
- Other than Redick, the Magic reserves shot a combined 6 of 17.
Congratulations also to the Magic. who had arguably their best season in franchise history. Absolutely no one predicted the Magic to make the finals before the season started; all the talk in the East was Cleveland/Boston. The Magic shocked Boston in Game 7 in the second round, and shocked Cleveland in six games to win the Eastern Conference Title to advance to the finals. * * *
posted by "Chigui" to Magic Madness message board
Before the playoffs began I thought we were going to be OK if we let Turk go. We just need to get a big PF, like Wallace and move Lewis to the 3.
Then we started rolling in the playoffs and Turk was huge for us. We get to the finals and I thought, we must do everything to keep him. He and Lewis present so much trouble with thier quickness and that.
But, now after seeing how bad we were outhustled, outrebounded and outscore in the paint; I think we should use the money to bring a better than avergae PF (Boozer? or Wallace) and let Turk walk.
Lakers are big, Celtics will have KG back next year and if Shaq goes to cleveland then YES we MUST get bigger on the inside.
Turk may just be the odd man out unless there is a way to trade Lewis, but I dont see that happening.
Regardless, thank you Orlando Magic for this great season. A sour end, but we will try again next year.
The Bottom Line:
1. Here's to the best season in Orlando Magic franchise history...
2. It is really not good to watch another team celebrate on your own floor, but at least we can honestly say that the better team won this series. Nobody expected this to be the Magic's year and they performed masterfully before running into a team that wanted it more and executed better in the clutch.
3. Dwight Howard is only 23. We'll be back.