Lakers-Magic Game 2 Preview: Is Kobe Bryant Capable of Being Contained?

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Lakers-Magic Game 2 Preview: Is Kobe Bryant Capable of Being Contained?
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

If there were ever a right way to open up a seven-game series for an NBA championship, the Los Angeles Lakers did it on Friday night with a 100-75 win over the Orlando Magic.

The Lakers shot 46.1 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. Midway through the second quarter, the Laker team went on a run of 10 unanswered points, six by Kobe Bryant. From that moment on, the Magic simply could not keep up.

Orlando shot a woeful 29.9 percent from the field and a disappointing 34.8 percent from distance.

 

Keys for Orlando in Game Two

Contain Kobe Bryant

Game One solidified the fact that when Kobe Bryant plays well, his team plays well.

Bryant finished game one with 40 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists.

Which brings up the question, can he be stopped?

While Bryant is great, it turns out that the answer is yes, and that is the biggest key for Orlando in Game Two. The combination of Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus need to keep the ball out of Bryant's hands.

Stan Van Gundy needs to make Derek Fisher's task of getting the ball to Bryant as difficult as possible. Van Gundy can achieve this goal by trapping Bryant even when he does not possess the ball.

Bryant needs to be made into a passer, not a shooter.

Orlando needs to make Trevor Ariza, Derek Fisher, and other role players take shots. Ariza finished game one with only three points, Fisher just nine. However, make sure those shots that are given to the Lakers' role players are not open ones.

Another way of stopping Bryant is to deny his movement.

In Game One, Bryant scored 14 points (seven-for-10 shooting) off the pick and roll. Lee and Pietrus must beat Bryant to his spot before he gets there, altering his movement.

If Bryant does have the ball, Lee and Pietrus need to play him one-on-one. In isolation plays during Game One, Bryant was just 2-fo-9 and scored only four points.

Bryant also needs to be limited early on in Game Two, taking the momentum out of his grasp, because when Bryant is on, he is on, and so are the Lakers.

 

Get stars involved early and often

Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Hedo Turkoglu combined for just 33 points in Game One (12, eight, and 13, respectively), on only six field goals.

The Magic's "Big Three" has combined for 55.1 points per game in the playoffs, and must score in bunches for Orlando to compete.

Orlando needs to get the ball to their three stars early and often in order to get them in their offensive rhythm, which will transfer into their overall momentum. 

Without production from all three stars, the Magic's offense does not flow nearly as well as when they are playing with accuracy.

Turkoglu got the Magic off to a strong start in Game One by scoring 11 points in the first half, but Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis were non-factors, resulting in a 10-point halftime deficit.

 

Shoot with confidence

Game One was an example of what happens to a shooting team when they don't make shots.

Orlando needs to put Game One behind them and move on. In the postseason, Orlando has shot an average of 46 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep.

 

Keys for Los Angeles in Game Two

Run offense through Kobe Bryant

When Bryant is at the top of his game, everyone can tell it.

Bryant was spectacular in Game One, making 16-of-34 shots for an amazing 40-point game.

Bryant is the Lakers' facilitator, and without Bryant being fluid in his offensive game, Los Angeles struggles.

The Lakers need to continue to run pick-and-roll plays, isolation plays, and post-up plays for Bryant in order for him to either find his shot, or a shot for a teammate.

 

Bench players need to step up

Lamar Odom was expected to make a impact on this NBA Finals series. However, Luke Walton was a pleasant surprise for the Lakers in Game One.

Odom and Walton combined for 20 points in Game One, although, Los Angeles' bench was outscored 29-23.

Shasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar, and Shannon Brown, each of whom failed to score in Game One, need to produce in order to give the Lakers second team a required boost to outplay a new-look Orlando second-team fueled by Jameer Nelson.

 

Take momentum into Game Two

The Lakers blew Game One open, however, Orlando has been an underdog virtually the whole post season. The Magic know how to come back, and do it exceptionally well.

The Lakers need to come into Game Two the same way they came into Game One—with confidence.

Three times during this post season, the Magic have been down in a series and have came back to win the next game.

 

In NBA Finals history, the team that has the 2-0 series advantage go on to win the series 94 percent of the time.

Los Angeles will look to use that stat to boost their momentum into Game Two.

 

 

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