Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Magic Feeling Good about Bulls' Troubles

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Magic Feeling Good about Bulls' Troubles

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- The Orlando Magic's 104-99 loss to the Atlanta Hawks

last night is an aberration, a blip on the radar screen that

will be forgotten in two nights when proper order is restored

tomorrow night at Orlando Arena.

The pertinent question is whether the Magic, which leads the

best-of-7 series 3-1, can beat the Chicago Bulls in their seemingly

inevitable Eastern Conference Finals showdown.

Yes, Orlando can win because, when playing to potential,

the Magic is impossible to defend by any team not playing at the

highest level. Shaquille O'Neal cannot be contained with one

man, and if you commit two, the Magic has enough good players to

win the 4-on-3 power play.

Double Shaq hard and somebody is left wide open. The Atlanta

Hawks tried that in the final regular-season game between the

teams and Dennis Scott made an NBA-record 11 3pointers. Play

Shaq one-on-one and he treats you like a solicitor knocking at

Marge Schott's door. The Hawks tried that, too, and O'Neal

scored 41 in Game 1 of their series.

"It's like you're damned if you do, damned if you don't," said

Hawks backup center Sean Rooks.

Said Atlanta point guard Mookie Blaylock, "If they keep playing

the way they have in this series, it [a Magic-Bulls final] would

be a great series. Chicago is a great defensive team, but

Orlando gives you a lot of challenges."

Balance is the most critical ingredient of a championship

basketball team, and Orlando -- like Chicago -- can play inside

and outside hwith a vengeance on both ends of the floor.

Orlando has one All-NBA player in point guard Penny Hardaway

and one of the league's three best centers in O'Neal. But what

makes it such a capable team is how well O'Neal and Hardaway

integrate with Scott, Horace Grant and Nick Anderson.

"People that think Shaq is just a dunk machine are badly

mistaken," said Anderson. "There's a lot more to his game -- the

boards in spite of foul trouble, his passing to open guys on the

perimeter. …

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