ORLANDO–Finally, Rafer Alston has had a breakout game. Sure, Alston, from Jamaica, Queens,and Cardoza High School under coach Ron Nacerio, has had many fine and exciting moments as he transcended from a worldwide recognized “street baller” to the wars of the National Basketball Association, where his game thrilled his numerous coaches at Ventura Junior College, Fresno State, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat and Toronto Rapters, where his confrontations with the coaching staff was the stuff of legends. But the young man had game. Big time game. And slowly and with patience, he began to understand under then Houston Rockets coach Jeff van Gundy that street ball and NBA ball were two different animals. So the other night, Alston simply played the best all-around game of his NBA career, scoring a clutch 20 points and running the club like a Tiny Archibald impersonator.
After helping the Magic reintroduce themselves to these 2009 NBA Finals with a thrilling 108-104 win over the Lakers, Alston said after the game, “Jameer [Nelson] was struggling, and I was just trying to help my team.” After Game 1, Alston had a difference of opinion with coach Stan Van Gundy regarding that Game 1 loss. “Stan and I have a great relationship. He’s just coaching and trying to win games. I’m playing and trying to help win games. Nothing was personal. The first game was a rhythm thing. The second game I was able to find a flow and I was able to make shots. He told me to play my game. I was aggressive from start to finish. I mixed it up, that’s what I do best. Tonight I’ll shoot some threes, penetrate, get to the foul line. The only bad thing was I had a lot of turnovers. I’m going to try and bring that down the next game.”
Perhaps, before our very eyes and when the final shot is taken, Alston will continue to work on his awesome skills and join the ranks of the league’s best guards. He can start tonight (Thursday) in Orlando in Game 4.