Orlando, Fla. The “Superman” capes were left crinkled up under the seats after a record-setting performance by Dwight Howard couldn’t prevent more Magic misery in the NBA finals.
Howard set a finals record with nine blocked shots, had 16 points and 21 rebounds, but the All-Star center missed eight free throws — including a pair that could have sealed a win in regulation — and the Magic lost, 99-91 in overtime, to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night to go down 3-1 in the series.
“I just missed them,” said Howard, aka Superman. “I’ve been working on my free throws. They just weren’t falling tonight. There’s no need to get down on myself. I think I did a lot of good things tonight, just my free throws weren’t there.”
Orlando was ahead, 87-84, with 11.1 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter when Howard was fouled. Taking a deep breath and relaxing his shoulders, Howard took the ball and bounced it each time before he shot.
Howard, who had been shooting 65 percent from the line in the postseason, finished 6 for 14. The Magic were 22 for 37.
“How would you feel? Pretty bad, right? He’s obviously upset,” Magic guard J.J. Redick said. “It’s a disappointing way to lose — 11 seconds up three with two free throws. You at least feel you’re going to get another trip to the free throw line because they have to foul. End up losing in overtime.”
Derek Fisher hit a three-pointer to send the game into overtime, and another big one in OT, and the Magic will face a true must-win in Game 5 on Sunday.