ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy tried to sleep. He closed his eyes, but his cluttered basketball brain, a cyclone of X's and O's, wouldn't relax.
Game 4 of the NBA Finals, the one Orlando fumbled away with atrocious free-throw shooting, a hideous third quarter, and questionable late-game strategy, kept Van Gundy awake.
It may for many nights ahead.
With only a few hours to reflect on what went wrong Thursday night in the Los Angeles Lakers' 99-91 overtime victory, Van Gundy, who elected not to have his team foul with a three-point lead in the final seconds of regulation time, was asked if a night's rest had brought him any clarity.
"The assumption of a night's sleep is way off base," he said yesterday on a conference call.
Leading by 87-84 with 11.1 seconds to go, the Magic allowed Derek Fisher, L.A.'s Mr. Big and Bigger Shot, to dribble into the frontcourt and hit a tying three-pointer with 4.6 seconds left. Fisher, who would stick a fork in the Magic's hopes - and perhaps their season - with another three-pointer in overtime, made his shot over Orlando guard Jameer Nelson, who was slow to react to Fisher's penetration.
During a time-out after Magic center Dwight Howard had bricked the two biggest free throws of his young career, Van Gundy had told his team, which was just 22 of 37 from the line, not to foul. There is too much time left, Van Gundy thought. And not with Kobe Bryant around.
"I've rethought it and rethought it and rethought it," he said as the teams took a two-day break before tomorrow's Game 5. "It's easy to say now, 'Do I wish we had fouled as opposed to giving that up?' Yeah, but I still don't think at 11 seconds to go in a game that we're going to foul in that situation. "