SportsNation Blog ArchivesSN Blog Archives Rafer Alston

We'll get back to the actual draft selections in a bit, but frankly, aside from new Timberwolves general manager David Kahn putting Matt Millen and Jon Gruden to shame by stockpiling people who play the same position in a matter of mere minutes, the week's real drama involved players who long since had their moment on the podium with David Stern.

We're talking trades -- and not just mentally talking, as Shaq seems to prefer.

Vince Carter is in Orlando, Richard Jefferson is in San Antonio, Shaquille O'Neal is in Cleveland and Thabo Sefolosha is in Oklahoma City. And if you don't think that last one matters, you've obviously never listened to anyone with an Oklahoma accent.

nspe33

I have a feeling [the Magic] aint bringing back turkoglu now.with the money that howard,carter,and lewis are making,I cant imagine them giving him the kind of money he thought he was going to get last week.

-- nspe33
THEBOOTGUY

Get ready, Cleveland. [Shaq] willl be fat and out of shape when camp starts, he'll have to play himself into shape, and he'll be injured the first 1 - 1 1/2 months of the season. Just like every other team he has ever played for! Bank it!

-- THEBOOTGUY

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Rick Fox knows something about versatility. Forget splitting a basketball career between the Lakers and Celtics, the guy made repeat appearances on both "One Tree Hill" and "Oz" (just imagine the possible crossover episode between those two). So there are worse people to ask about what both teams in the NBA Finals need, beyond star performances from Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, respectively.

For their part, voters are split as to whether Pau Gasol or Rashard Lewis is the best sidekick in the series. Surprisingly, Lamar Odom fares equally poorly in both California and Florida (although he does better than most places in Pennsylvania, home of Hershey's).

Roland (Orlando)

Other than players named Kobe and Dwight, what player has had the most impact on this series for either team?

Rick Fox
Rick Fox

I thought, quite frankly, for the Lakers, Odom had to be the presence he was in the first two wins. I thought his presence was the X-factor. For the Magic, I thought the point guard position was one of challenge for the Lakers. It's always been the pick and roll. You saw early on in the series, [the Magic] had to see what Jameer Nelson could give them and it could be a distraction, and it was. They seemed to return to what worked, and Alston played well, leading them to a win. Full chat transcript.

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Sure, Dwight Howard has made a name -- if not a puppet -- for himself throughout the Magic's playoff run. The big man is going to be front and center in highlights for the next decade. But when it comes to this postseason's breakout star, it's no contest who takes top honors.

This is Stan Van Gundy's world.

Just four weeks ago, Van Gundy was barely a blip on the radar for anything more than mustache aficionados. Fully half of SportsNation said he was either a liability or a non-factor in the team's success. Asked which coach they would least want to play for, voters tabbed Van Gundy more than Phil Jackson, Mike Brown and George Karl combined.

But after the mustachioed maestro pulled the right strings in Game 3, he's suddenly the greatest thing to come down the pike since Stephen Strasburg.

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Put your brooms away, Los Angeles, because this series will not need your sweeping services anymore. With Orlando shooting lights-out all night long (a Finals-best 62.5 percent from the field), the Magic have officially grabbed their first game of this series, and the franchise's first ever Finals victory, with a 108-104 win.

The difference-maker in Game 3? Everyone, we'd like to introduce to you ... the Orlando Magic backcourt! Rafer Alston and Mickael Pietrus finally came out of their dry spells to score a magical 38 points combined.

Now that the Lakers' 2-0 series lead has been cut in half, which team will win the NBA Finals?

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Just keep throwing stuff at the wall and hope something sticks. That's how Magic coach Stan Van Gundy summed up his point guard rotation in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

A game after playing 23 minutes in his first run in months, Jameer Nelson's time tailed off. Rafer Alston -- surprisingly not dressed in a parka and mittens, despite the bitter chill that apparently haunts him on the bench -- missed seven of eight shots. By the second half, Hedo Turkoglu was bringing the ball up court and fans back in Orlando were waiting for Scott Skiles to walk through that door.

SportsNation blogger ghostcasino liked Van Gundy's machinations, suggesting Turkoglu is the team's best playmaker at this point.

Blogger AB2324 isn't so sure Van Gundy is the second coming of Norman Dale on the bench, especially if he insists on playing J.J. Redick.

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