ORLANDO — The Magic's Jameer Nelson has been frustrated with his return in the Finals, but the point guard doesn't believe he's disrupting team chemistry.
Nelson, out since February with a shoulder injury, played the fourth quarter and overtime Thursday in place of starter Rafer Alston in the Game 4 loss to the Lakers. But Nelson has hardly played up to his All-Star form.
"I don't feel responsible," Nelson said Saturday. "I'm disappointed with the team. I'm not a savior. I'm not a hero. I'm not a comic. I'm just going out there to play the game like everybody else."
Nelson had two points, three turnovers and three assists in 26 minutes in Game 4. Alston had 11 points on 5-for-13 shooting, two assists and one turnover in 27 minutes. Alston has been the starter since he was acquired from the Rockets at the trade deadline after Nelson had what was at the time called season-ending surgery.
Alston complained about his minutes after Game 1 and again after Game 4. He said he had not met with coach Stan Van Gundy and that no meeting was planned.
Alston said he has friends who are upset. "They were ready to fly in and wring his neck, but that's the way the game goes," he said. "Friends don't understand that. …It just is tough. You think you're going to go back in there."
TO WOES: Taking care of the ball will be a key point of emphasis for the Magic tonight. Orlando had 19 turnovers that led to 16 Lakers points in Game 4. "It's hard to win a ball game when you're handing them the ball and they're getting layups at the other end," F Rashard Lewis said. Orlando has 60 turnovers in the Finals, which have resulted in 71 points. The Lakers have 42, which have led to 45 points. The Magic had averaged 12.8 turnovers during the first three rounds and are averaging 15 in the Finals. Howard leads the team in turnovers (17) in the Finals and had a team-high seven in Game 4. It would be tempting to blame the Magic's problems on its unsettled point-guard situation, but Alston and Nelson had one each in Game 4.
Bryant likes being Laker: Kobe Bryant can become a free agent after the season, but he said his status "won't be an issue." Asked if he could imagine playing for another team, he said, "No." Though he never said he wouldn't become a free agent, Bryant, who has been a Laker for his 13-year career, acted as if he wasn't even aware of his option to put himself on the market in July: "I have a decision about my future?"
Jackson fined: The league fined Lakers coach Phil Jackson $25,000 for criticizing the officials during Game 4. The league also penalized the Lakers $25,000 for the comments, which came during aTV interview.