This is either early or late but it's got some good stuff in it
Magic in seven? Are you on crack?
I know, I know.
Well, look at it this way: If they win, it’s probably going to have to be seven so it’s not like I’m going to blow it like last series where I thought they’d get Cleveland in seven and they made me look like a doofus by winning in six.
But I digress.
Thank goodness for a compelling fourth quarter because for about three quarters, that looked a lot like Raptors-Bucks on some February Tuesday night.
But it did present some interesting tidbits. Like …
(And yes, this is either late or early, depending on your coast, but I’ve got to get up and write an off-day story before I travel so it was easier to knock this off now).
|Orlando was this close to tying the series.|
Well, actually, the four-letter synonym for “excrement” and Kobe Bryant finally gave us his best quote of the series and we can’t really write it.
The question was: What were you thinking when the ball was in the air to Courtney Lee (at the regulation time buzzer)” and Bryant told us exactly what he was thinking.
It was what we shall forever call The Sam Play, a lob to the most unlikely guy on the floor, almost exactly the same play Sam Mitchell drew up for T.J. Ford the night the refs blew the timing in Atlanta and it would have been a spectacular end to a rather boring Game 2 of the NBA Finals if Lee had been able to finish.
Kobe was impressed.
“Honestly, it was just a brilliant play. It was just a very, very smart play that he drew up. He knew my eye was more on the shooters coming up, and just a hell of a play by a hell of a coach.”
It really was a helluva play (and I’m not suggesting Sam was the first one to ever run it, but why not give him some props) and it would have been the defining moment of Lee’s young basketball life.
“It was very close,” was how he put it. “The ball rolled off the rim. ... I just had to finish but I didn't.”
Stan says he’s run it “two or three” times before but no one can ever remember him running it for Lee.
So, what do the Magic do now?
Well, they’ll get a big boost from their fans and homecourt on Tuesday but they’re going to need every edge they can get.
They can only hope the fans, and the familiar rims, will allow their point guards to play even passably well; right now, they are killing them.
The Lakers simply don’t guard Alston and only give Nelson cursory coverage, which allows them to have another defender to dig down on Howard. And since Los Angeles is also paying practically no attention to Gortat when he’s out there in Howard, I can see huge trouble looming for Orlando.
The Things You See, No. XXVIX
A cameraman filming a colleague FILLING HIS PLATE IN THE FOOD LINE IN THE MEDIA DINING AREA before Game 2.
I think I should probably put this under some ‘save-get’ key on the old keypad because the question comes up almost nightly now, it seems.
Yes, My Favourite Marcin is a pretty good back up centre. Yes, Marcin Gortat is a free agent.
No, the Raptors are not going to make a pitch for him.
Before anyone gets all hot and bothered about any fours or fives out there, consider this:
Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Kris Humphries, Rasho Nesterovic, Patrick O’Bryant, Nathan Jawai and – doubtful but maybe – The Legend Pops Mensa-Bonsu.
That’s the front court. Four of those six guys already have guaranteed contracts, Nesterovic is still a very likely probability and even if they don’t do Pops, they’re full in the front court.
So, yes, Gortat’s good; no, he’s not “on the radar” unless things change dramatically between now and July 1 and that’s about 99.9999999 per cent not going to happen.
Know who my favourite Laker is?
Not because he’s old like me but because he is far and away the most thoughtful and intelligent interview subject on the team. He’s the go-to guy in the scrums on the court when the practices are over because he’ll look you in the eye, consider the question before answering it and answer in full and complete sentences.
Like a grown up.
Good guy; no wonder he won the 2008 Magic Johnson Award given out by the Professional Basketball Writers Association for the player who best combines media relations and on-court abilities.
(Needed a plug for our PBWA after chairing first annual meeting Sunday).
Or Jalen’s people.
(And Jalen did once give us one of the all-world quotes about his penchant for collecting people by declaring in Detroit: “My entourages have entourages; that has to stop”).
I didn’t mean any disrespect, I thought your arrival was cool, and befitting a dude like you.
Remember I told you about this Vic The Brick character, a radio chat show host out in L.A. who passes himself off as a journalist when the final hits town, even though him wearing the Laker gear probably means none of us take him seriously.
Well, here’s his big “question” to Kobe last night:
“Experience is divine on this squad right now, making the plays, executing down the stretch. You've reached the abyss with the warrior glare, but it just seemed tonight Gasol and D. Fish separated themselves making key plays in money time.”
Reached the abyss with the warrior glare. You can’t make that crap up.
We, the collective sportswriting “we” that is, know how this week is going to unfold because we all live under Koppett’s Law, as presented by the late, great sportswriting legend Leonard Koppett.
The law suggests what ever inconveniences the greatest number of people (primarily sportswriters) is what will happen so …
Magic win Game 3; Lakers win Game 4 and while we’re all sitting in our homes next Sunday wearing Laker facepaint because we don’t want to have to book a Monday flight to L.A. late Sunday night, the Magic will win Game 5 in some dramatic, likely double-overtime, fashion.
Trust me on this one.
The Stan Quip Of The Night, pre-game edition:
Q:. I don't know how often you think back to your days in Miami, but after you left there, did you ever question your ability to coach or connect with NBA players?
STAN VAN GUNDY: No.