Nelson Plays But Can't Make an Impact
Nelson, who suffered a torn labrum on Feb. 2, made his playoff debut against the Los Angeles Lakers, checking in to start the second quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
"My rhythm was a little off, but it was good to be back out there," Nelson said. "I thought I did some good things, and I also thought I did some bad things. Like I always think, there's always room for improvement."
Nelson played the entire second quarter and handed out four assists and scored a couple of buckets during that time. But the Magic were outscored 31-19 in that quarter.
"It's not about the individual person," Nelson said afterward. "It's more about us as a team getting better over these next two days. Everybody obviously wants to talk to me because I sat out for four months, but it's not about me right now. It's about the team getting better over the next two days."
One way the Magic could improve is if Nelson can give his team the same kind of leadership and 3-point shooting that he gave his team from November through January. Then again, that's asking him to play a lot of catch-up ... and in a hurry.
"I think he had an effect in the ballgame," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Nelson. "I think he came in and he was effective in penetration and finding guys. It looked like he was back in the format of what he wanted to get accomplished. Obviously his shooting wasn't quite there, although he hit a couple of shots. But we anticipate he'll be out there more."
Maybe so. But don't expect Nelson to be introduced with the starters at any point in this series.
"I'm not coming back to start," Nelson said. "I'm coming back just to relieve Ray (Rafer Alston) when he needs a break and just do what the team needs. I'm not trying to come back and start or anything like that. I think he's done a great job and no matter what he deserves to start."