I don't know what's worse, failing to show up like the Magic did in Game 1, or playing downright dumb like they did last night in Game 4.
I vote Game 4. I was disappointed after Game 1, but Game 4 left me angry. From the coach on down, everybody is to blame. A total team loss if there ever was one.
The Magic probably should have won that game easily, but with turnovers, missed free throws, bad defense and horrible coaching they threw the game away, and probably the series.
I think one of the big keys to the game being overlooked was that the Lakers trailed only by 12 at the half. With Odom, Gasol and Bynum all in foul trouble and out of the game, the Magic should have dominated a Lakers lineup featuring the likes of Mbenga, Powell and some other scrubs.
But turnovers and silly fouls by the Magic kept the Lakers firmly entrenched in the game and had me a little worried heading into the second half.
And sure enough, in the second half, the Lakers began to hit shots. And missed free throws by the Magic began to add up. It was sickening.
But the ineptitude didn't end there. Coach Stan Van Gundy curiously decided that Jameer Nelson would be the closer at point guard during this game.
Alston wasn't having nearly the game he did in Game 3, but he wasn't awful. Nelson, on the other hand, aside from a couple of nice assists to Howard, really did nothing of note. In fact, I thought the Magic got back into the game in spite of him.
After Game 1, I said I was fine if Nelson took backup Anthony Johnson's minutes in this series. But twice in this series, Van Gundy has given Nelson starters minutes and he hasn't been worthy of those minutes. Our Gregg Doyel wrote a column after Game 3 that said Nelson should shut to it down for the good of the Magic. I'm in agreement that I probably don't want to see Nelson on the floor anymore in this series, but I don't put it on Nelson, I put it on Van Gundy to make that call.
And for the love of ____ Dwight, quit bringing the ball down to your waist when you catch the ball! Keep it up high so Kobe and Fisher, et al, can't get in there and swipe at the ball. How many times does he need to turn the ball over before he realizes that! Why haven't the coaches been working with him on this?
It stinks (to put it mildly) that there are two games before Game 5 because this one will stick in my craw until then.
So is the series over?
As perturbed as I am right now, the reality of the situation is that Games 2, 3 and 4 could have swung either way. So it's not as if the Lakers are dominating this thing. I don't think it's totally off-base to think the Magic could win three in a row.
Is it likely? Probably not, but as a Magic fan, until the Lakers have a 4 in the series win column, I'm going to believe the title is still winnable.
But they've got to play smarter.