- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: “Stern warned coaches and players about publicly questioning his game officials only hours after fining Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and small forward Matt Barnes $35,000 apiece for comments they made in Howard’s defense after Game 2 against the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday night. And Stern said a $35,000 fine will seem like pocket change to the next coach or player who has a beef with the way the whistles tweet. [...] Stern said the fines could be the equivalent to game checks, which means $100,000 extractions from wallets.”
- John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com: “Sometimes they roll their eyes at the numbers, yawn at some and certainly absorb bits and pieces of the info along the way. And considering the consistent effort and the strong finish that the Magic had during this 59-win season, it’s hard to argue that they weren’t the most focused and well-prepared team in the NBA. But one Van Gundy statistic in particular caught his team’s attention heading into Saturday’s Game 3 against the Charlotte Bobcats, and it goes something like this: “In the last five years, 47 times teams have been up 2-0 and 32 times they have lost Game 3,” Van Gundy said. “And all but two of those cases that’s the higher-seeded team (losing). You would think they could more than one-third of the Game 3s. It does tell you in terms of teams mental states.” Van Gundy is usually a coach of many words, but when his chatter loses its effectiveness, he lets the numbers do the talking for him. And he’s hoping that “a little history lesson,” will give his team a must-win mentality once again in Saturday’s Game 3 at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena.”
- Here are the keys for the Orlando Magic against the Charlotte Bobcats in Game 3.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: “Rashard Lewis emerged from the Orlando Magic players’ lounge following Friday’s practice with his left sneaker off, a bag of ice wrapped around his left ankle and a slight limp. But the Magic power forward emphasized that the injury won’t slow him down when the Magic face the Charlotte Bobcats in Game 3 on Saturday. [...] Lewis said he hurt the ankle during the third quarter of Game 2 on Wednesday. On the sequence in question, Lewis went up for a layup on a fastbreak and had the ball blocked off the glass from behind by Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace. Wallace then came down on Lewis’ ankle.”
- Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk backs up head coach Stan Van Gundy’s comments about Michael Jordan’s legacy.
- Ben Q. Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post poses a question: which struggling Magic player needs to step up the soonest?
- Kate Fagan of ESPN the Magazine critiques the free-throw techniques of several players in the NBA: “Howard’s 63.6% mark in last year’s playoffs was nearly 20% higher than his previous postseason average. He credited the practice of singing to himself to “calm his nerves.” Hey, Knicks fans, does Superman’s held follow-through remind you of anyone? Magic assistant Patrick Ewing mentors Howard, who takes 100 free throws after game-day shootarounds.”
- Speaking about free-throws, this remains a sensitive topic in the city of Orlando: “[Nick] Anderson, Orlando’s original draft pick in 1989, played 13 seasons, went to the playoffs in six of them and finished with respectable career averages (14.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg). But he is universally remembered as Nick the Brick for missing four consecutive free throws in the final 10.5 seconds of Game 1 of the 1995 Finals as the Magic nursed a three-point lead over the defending-champion Rockets. Few fans recall that Kenny Smith nailed a three-pointer to send the game into overtime or that Anderson finished the night with 22 points and 11 rebounds. All they remember are the four clanged foul shots and that the Rockets swept the series. ‘That first free throw I was as confident as ever,’ Anderson says. ‘It felt great leaving my hand, but it just rimmed out. I know what kind of player I am, I’m going to make the next one. I tried to adjust my stance, made it wider to make extra sure I was stable, but I leaned back as I shot, as if I were falling.’ That second attempt hit the front rim and ricocheted back to Anderson. The desperate Rockets immediately fouled him again, and Orlando called timeout. Outwardly, Anderson appeared defiant, pounding his chest. Inside, he says now, ‘it started playing like a radio in my head. You just missed two free throws. You just missed … ‘ ”