26 April 2007

Code Blue, Indeed: Pistons 93, Magic 77

Our first home playoff game in four years featured the promotion "Code Blue." It makes sense, given our team's color palette, but it also rates about a 9 on the Unintentional Comedy Scale. Code Blue is used in hospitals to indicate that a patient's heart has stopped beating - it signals "a real or suspected imminent loss of life," according to You Know Who.

"Real imminent loss of life" seems to describe our predicament now that we're down 3-0 in a best-of-seven series. Including the regular season, we're 0-7 against Detroit in 2006/2007. If that isn't an indication of which team is better, I don't know what is.

The most frustrating thing about this whole series has been the fact that we've played well throughout. The missed free throws and turnovers that plagued us in Game 1 seem to have been corrected. Detroit just has an answer for everything we throw at them. They're like BoBo dolls or something.

The point at which the season flashed before my eyes came just before halftime. With the Magic down by one after a Jameer Nelson jumper, Tayshaun Prince responded for Detroit with a jumper of his own with :02 to play in the half. ALL THE MAGIC HAD TO DO WAS INBOUND THE BALL. Hedo Turkoglu threw the inbounds pass too far for a streaking Jameer Nelson to catch up with it. Prince stole the ball, then chucked it to Chauncey Billups, who coolly nailed a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded. The Pistons scored 5 points in the span of two seconds to take a 6-point lead, not to mention TONS of momentum, into the locker room.

We were just picked apart tonight. We played hard, but the Pistons played harder. They outrebounded us, forced us into more turnovers, and had icewater in their veins the whole night. There isn't much left for us to try. Were Jameer to have a crappy game tonight, I'd expect to see Keyon Dooling start for him in Game 4. However, Jameer came out of nowhere to score 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting, so it doesn't make much sense to bench him after that performance.

So do we bench Hedo Turkoglu and Grant Hill, who both played miserably tonight? Not a chance. They both had bad nights, but they aren't the reason we lost the game. While it's true that tonight's game would have been much closer had those maintained their high level of play from the first two games of the series, there's no way to determine for sure if that would have lead to a win.

Not everything was bad, though. Jameer broke out of his slump, Darko played hard and well, and we executed our offense effectively. We were just outplayed by a better team. That's what it comes down to.

At this point, Magic fans, we have nothing to lose except the series. I hope we play passionate, inspired basketball on Saturday in Game 4, which Brian Hill called "a pride game" for us. Speaking of pride, it disgusts me that some fans left with 5:59 to play and the Magic down 11. It sends the message to the team that it's more important for the "fans" to get home early so they can catch C.S.I. on their TiVo than it is for them to support their team. I could almost understand leaving if the Magic were down 20, or were shooting 28%, or had not played competitively the whole night. But this team was still in the game. Indefensible.

I hope the O-Rena sells out for Game 4, and I hope we stay alive to force a Game 5 in Auburn Hills. For now, I suppose, the Magic are just happy to be in the playoffs, although they can't be happy with their current standing.

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