ORLANDO — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doesn't see much future for Magic C Dwight Howard in all those dunks and power moves.
The NBA's career scoring leader would like to see Howard not rely so much on his size and athleticism and make himself a player his team can turn to when it counts. Maybe even throw in a skyhook or two.
"He's still offensively kind of raw," Abdul-Jabbar said Wednesday. "He doesn't have a go-to move yet. Right now, he's kind of predictable."
The Magic trail the Lakers 2-1, and so far, Howard's Superman act has mostly been grounded.
"Kareem is right, and he understands that in order to be a good player you have to add different things to your game," said Howard, 23. "I've tried to do the skyhook just like him, but he had more range and more touch. He was shooting skyhooks from the 3-point line, and I'm still working on it from the paint, so I've got a long way to go."
The Lakers have harassed Howard with double-teams, surrounded him with 7-footers and shrunk his passing lanes. Howard has averaged 16.6 points per game in the series. That's down from his 20.9 points in the regular season.
"Dwight is kind of limited offensively," Abdul-Jabbar said. "He does great right under the basket, you force him to do other things, he doesn't have an answer for it yet."
His teammates laugh at criticism of Howard's talents. "If I was that big (7 feet, 265 pounds), I wouldn't ever shoot a jump shot," Courtney Lee joked.
Uphill against history: Since the NBA moved to its current 2-3-2 NBA Finals format during the 1984-85 season, the team scheduled to host the middle three games has won the championship six of 24 times. Only two teams, the Pistons (2004) and Heat (2006), have swept the middle three games at home. That's what the Magic is hoping for. "We'll take our chances with winning here at home and stealing one on the road rather than losing here at home and then trying to steal two on the road," Magic F/C Tony Battie said.
MAGIC CHARM: The Magic is 6-0 in the playoffs — 7-0 on the season — when 7-year-old Gina Marie Incandela sings the national anthem before games. Her magic will be tested again tonight. Incandela was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder — Not Otherwise Specified, Autism, or PDD-NOS. Her parents feared their daughter would not be able to speak at one point. But working with teachers who used music to help her speech, she eventually learned the The Star-Spangled Banner and sang it with a voice that has wowed players, fans and coaches during the playoffs. "I'd be a little bit freaked out if come Thursday night, some 40-year-old middle-aged guy came out there to sing the national anthem," Magic guard J.J. Redick told the Orlando Sentinel. "We know she doesn't have a direct impact on the game, but she's the spark that gets the energy going."