As expected, the Orlando Magic bounced back and played much better in Game Two and had their chances to steal a game in Los Angeles before heading back to their home court for the next three games. Anybody who has watched them in these playoffs knows that they always give a better effort following a humbling defeat.
Had Courtney Lee been able to convert the last second alley-oop attempt things would be a lot different this morning. The play was well drawn up, the inbounds pass was where it needed to be and Lee made the proper cut to the basket but when you get down to it, a miss is still a miss.
In Game One, the Magic’s starting front court of Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu combined for just 33 points on 6-for-27 shooting. That was arguably the biggest factor in their 25 point loss to open the series.
Things turned around for Orlando’s starting front court in Game Two as Lewis led all scorers with 34 points to go along with eleven rebounds and seven assists while Turkoglu added 22 points and Howard finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds. The three combined to shoot 25-for-48 on the night. Lewis was on fire and really took charge for the Magic on the offensive end. In the second quarter, Lewis scored 18 of Orlando’s 20 points to keep them in the game, only trailing by five at the break.
The production of the Magic front court is the biggest reason that the Lakers needed overtime to pull out a 101-96 overtime victory in Game Two as opposed to a 25 point blowout victory in Game One.
In the third quarter I thought Orlando did a great job of using Howard as a decoy. He was effectively able to get the ball deep in the post and draw a double team leaving his three point shooters open and unlike the previous game, the Magic were making those shots. I look for them to do more of that in Game Three.
All of the numbers by Orlando should have added up to a victory and an even series after two games but what hurt the Magic the most was their ineffective ball handling. In the end, the Magic committed 20 turnovers and that was the biggest reason that they lost this game. The Lakers were able to make big plays on the defensive end and force the Magic in to making mistakes.
As for the Lakers, they were able to get effective play from their three main offensive weapons. Kobe Bryant scored 29 points on 10-for-22 shooting and for the second straight game finished with eight assists. Pau Gasol finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds and Lamar Odom played big once again finishing with 19 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Los Angeles showed poise in the extra period while forcing Orlando to make mistakes that eventually cost them. The Lakers knew that they blew a golden opportunity to win the game in regulation when Bryant was blocked from behind by Turkoglu while driving towards the basket. Replays showed that the Lakers had three open men on the floor that would have had a much better look at the basket.
Despite the loss, I think Orlando gained confidence from the close game and as a team they have yet to play their best game. I look for them to be firing on all cylinders come Game Three on Tuesday night and get their first Finals victory in franchise history.