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- Orlando needs this one, obviously. Back home, part of me expects them to come out and get the win, but I'm not sure at all—the Lakers have been the better team in each of the first two games. I saw on Kenny Smith's Twitter page that he predicted this game would be a blowout one way or the other, and I agree. I see one team folding as soon as there's a little separation; I just don't know which team it's going to be.
- 12:00 The crowd goes wild when the Magic win the jump ball. Even if the Magic aren't ready to play, and they should be (if they lose their season is, for all intents and purposes, over), their fans are ready for this one.
- 11:37 Magic missed their first shot, but I liked the first possession. An inside touch for Howard, then a kickout to Hedo for a wide open three.
- 10:36 Rafer Alston throws the ball ten feet over Courtney Lee's head. You can almost see him worrying about Jameer Nelson.
- 9:03 Pau Gasol dunk. The Magic are getting wide open threes, but the Lakers are punishing them down low. Neither team has started off playing much defense.
- 4:54 The Magic have settled down and started to force jumpshots, rather than dunks and layups, but the Lakers are canning their jumpers. 17-13, Lakers.
- 4:54 Interview with the Van Gundy's father. He says about his son's college careers, "Jeff was a better player than Stan, but Stan was a remarkable shooter." Later, he says, "Stan didn't know what a layup was." I'll tell you what, Stan's teams have the exact same philosophy as he did. They live and die by the three.
- 3:53 Rafer Alston is now 3-of-3 from the field, and is clearly trying to make me regret my comments about him playing timidly.
- 3:01 Tony Battie is the first big man off the bench for Orlando. I'm not sure how I feel about that substitution. Gortat has done a great job during these playoffs.
- 2:24 Tony Battie cans a jumper. This is the part where I place my foot in my mouth.
- 52.9 Rafer Alston hits two free throws, and is perfect from the floor. I now have both feet placed firmly inside my mouth. I loved how Stan Van Gundy allowed Alston to play out his hot streak. In the last game, Nelson came in with four minutes to go in the first quarter. This time, though, SVG let Alston play out his hot hand, finishing the first quarter without a sub. Just great coaching to let your players keep going when they're hot, especially a player lacking confidence.
- 11:17 Lamar Odom gets a wide open layup, an and-one. There is literally no defense being played. The Magic are shooting over 65 percent and losing by five.
- 10:11 Battie sets a brutal screen on Sasha Vujacic, who goes down like a ton of bricks. I appreciate seeing Sasha go down hard—to me, he is a soft, streaky shooter who spends too much time whining. Battie even being in the game begs the question, "Why?" I thought Gortat had done a great job so far this postseason.
- 9:03 Dwight Howard's favorite movie is Finding Nemo? I have a 10 year-old brother who I'd make fun of for liking Finding Nemo. Then, I thought it was great that Jeff Van Gundy asked what Friday, the movie, was, and Mark Jackson replied that it was a great movie starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker. Just a great case study in racial divisions.
- 7:13 Pietrus makes a jump shot. The Magic's supporting cast seems to enjoy being back home. Pietrus and Alston are all playing well. Next, Pietrus double dribbles like no other right in front of Joey Crawford, but there is no call and Pietrus goes in for a wide open dunk. Gotta love NBA refs.
- 5:31 The Magic are down one, but shooting 76 percent. Maybe it's time to start playing a little defense, Orlando.
- 4:28 Rafer Alston 5-of-5 for 13 points after a driving layup at the rim, where the seas parted and the Lakers allowed Rafer an open path to the hoop. Both defenses are horrible right now.
- 3:58 Kobe Bryant makes a fake shot pass that was so very pretty, finding a wide open Pau Gasol under the bucket.
- 2:53 Trevor Ariza gets fouled on his way to the hoop. Not that this in any way relates to Ariza getting fouled, but this has been an unbelievably played offensive first half. The teams have combined for only 10 turnovers and over 60 percent shooting.
- 2:10 Kobe gets Pietrus to jump on his shot fake, drawing the foul. As well as Pietrus has played defensively in the past two rounds, he tends to get faked out of his shoes far too often. He needs to stay on the floor and make Kobe earn his points. Kobe, though, is absolutely deadly, and has the best footwork and the largest repertoire of moves in the NBA.
- Halftime The Magic finally get a couple stops, and opened up a five point lead. 59-54 Magic. Even though they're winning, it seems like the Magic might lose this one. They should be up a lot more right now, with the way they are shooting it. Kobe smells his first NBA championship, and is trying to do whatever he can to lift his team to the victory. So far, though, he hasn't seen much help.
- 11:03 Pau Gasol scores a bucket, and the worst stat of the night comes up—Pau has zero rebounds through 25 minutes. The Big Poodle strikes again.
- 8:59 The first get-out-of-your-seat moment of the game occurs with Courtney Lee's baseline drive and dunk. Derek Fisher was caught on a poster right there.
- 8:30 Kobe gets bailed out on a 30-foot fadeaway jumper. He definitely got fouled, but man that's a tough bailout for the Magic after an otherwise good defensive possession.
- 7:37 Lee jumps and fires an ill-advised pass to the corner, which gets picked off. The Magic seem to leave their feet to pass and throw turnovers more than any other team in the league.
- 6:49 Kobe gets called for a weak push-off after he and Lee were jostling for position.
- 6:10 In this third quarter, it's really evident that Orlando wants this game more than the Lakers. They should, since they are fighting for their playoff lives, but it is very clear that they do. Also, where is J.J. Redick? Stan Van Gundy yanks around his minutes so much every night. J.J. must have no clue going into a game whether he's going to be playing crunch-time minutes or sitting the bench the entire game.
- 4:23 Odom picks up his third foul, and I think it's the first time all game I've even noticed that he's on the court. He has completely disappeared after a great Game Two.
- 4:11 Bryant once again gets fouled on a jump shot after a great ball fake. The Magic have to do a much better job of staying on the floor. Watching all these guys struggle with Kobe, it makes me appreciate Shane Battier's job on Kobe in round two. Every shot Kobe took in that series was contested with a Battier hand in his eye.
- 1:21 Orlando misses two shots in a row for the FIRST TIME ALL GAME! Then Kobe hits a three to cut the lead to two, 77-75, right after the Magic had been threatening to really put some cushion between the teams.
- End of third Kobe misses a three to end the third, and the Magic take an 81-75 lead into the fourth quarter. Even though they only won the quarter by one, the Magic completely dominated the third. They are still letting the Lakers hang around, though, and it could come back to bite them in the a@#.
- 11:40 Battie with another jumpshot. I doubted Stan Van Gundy's decision to put him in, but it's really worked out perfectly for the Magic. Battie has been very solid.
- 10:51 The Magic are still shooting 67 percent from the field. That's unheard of for an exhibition game, nevermind a game played in the Finals with so much intensity.
- 10:05 Odom wakes up from his three quarter-long nap, scoring two quick hoops and getting a great block on Gortat. He really has tantalizing talent; with him, it's just a matter of whether he's going to bring it on a certain night.
- 9:19 Pietrus hits an absurd shot from the corner in Luke Walton's mug. He takes and makes incredibly tough shots. On a side note, I just went to get water from the refrigerator during the commercial, and all three of my water jugs were empty. Isn't that just gross when that happens? It's the worst feeling in the world. I wasted my trip upstairs to try to get water, and now I have to wait until the next commercial to go get some tap water and ice.
- 7:52 Howard with a jump hook in the lane after crisp ball movement and Lewis feeding a cutting Howard in the middle of the lane. The Magic are executing extremely well, and are still shooting 66 percent from the field.
- 7:13 The ball goes directly off Odom's leg, and the "best officials in the world" miss the easy call. Lakers ball.
- 7:00 Howard makes an astounding block on an Odom shot. I'm not sure whether it should have been a goaltend, but that block was breathtaking.
- 6:24 Ariza hits a three, and the lead is cut to five. Every time the Magic threaten to pull away, the Lakers respond with a big shot. They have been completely unable to get any breathing room at all.
- 6:10 Moving screen on Howard. I hate moving screen calls, especially weak ones, especially with six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
- 5:54 Gasol for two. On a side note, he still only has one rebound. On another side note, he's 7'1".
- 5:27 Fisher with a huge three to cut the lead to two. Lakers 7-of-7 from the field in the quarter.
- 5:08 Pietrus, aka the Most Surprising Player in the 2009 NBA Playoffs, tries to cram on Derek Fisher's head, drawing a foul in the process.
- 4:56 Odom with another bucket, this time in the post over Turkoglu. When he uses his size and strength, he can be a very good post player.
- 4:10 Odom with a steal, and he is taking the game over on both ends (ok, a little exaggeration. He isn't taking the game over by any means, but he is playing very well.)
- 3:16 Gasol spends 20 seconds arguing an out-of-bounds call, after which the replay clearly shows the ball going off his hands. I think he should use that energy he spent arguing the call to try to get his second rebound.
- 2:41 Gasol hits two free throws to tie the game. The Lakers are in a great position to absolutely steal this game after being outplayed the entire game.
- 2:20 The Most Surprising Player of the 2009 NBA Playoffs follows a Turkoglu miss with a great putback jumper. After that dunk, I had to wonder "Why isn't J.J. Redick in the game? He's far more valuable than Pietrus." Wait, I forgot, this isn't the ACC.
- 1:36 Pau Gasol with a very tough take, and probably should've been an and-one. Just in case you were starting to think he was playing tough, I have to remind you— he still only has one rebound.
- 59.8 Dwight Howard gobbles up a Kobe Bryant shot, but is called for a foul. Kobe misses his fifth free throw of the game before making the second attempt and the lead is down to two. Kobe has really cooled off after his unbelievable first quarter.
- 28.7 The Most Surprising Player of the 2009 NBA Playoffs deflects the ball away from Kobe Bryant, then rips it away from the Big Poodle. Pietrus gets fouled and makes both free throws to make it a two possession game. It's looking like Orlando is going to eke this one out, after all.
- 0.5 Bryant hits a layup, but this one is all over. Magic win, 108-104. All of a sudden, the pressure is on the Lakers to win in Game Four. If the Magic win Game Four, the series is all knotted up heading into the pivotal Game Five, which will be played in Orlando. This series might be a good one, after all. Both teams had incredible offensive games, even if there wasn't too much defense. The Magic's supporting cast played great, especially Alston and Pietrus. Game Four on Thursday night.
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