As a Laker fan I was not happy with the result but as a basketball fan this was a great game. Home cooking was the difference here. Orlando’s search for a point guard was answered and we learned a lot more about the two teams.
Once again Dwight Howard was still not unstoppable
Howard had his best game of the series so far with a relatively quiet 21 points. The Lakers swarming defense kept him from taking too many shots. He did go five of six while gathering 14 rebounds.
Orlando fans shouldn’t get too excited though, both Bynum and Gasol were in foul trouble for much of the first half and Howard was still unable to capitalize.
Howard did draw 16 fouls and Orlando shot exactly four more fouls that LA in a game they won by four. Hmmmmmmm….
Orlando does have a point guard
In the previous two games Orlando got very little production from its point guards. In Game Three Rafer Alston showed up early and often to the tune of 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting. The ominous note in the background was a completely ineffective Jameer Nelson.
Orlando’s bench can shoot well
Sort of. Orlando’s bench scored 24 points but 18 of the came from Michael Pietrus. Once again Orlando fans will want to temper their excitement by realizing that the Laker bench scored exactly as many points with Farmar and Odom each getting 11.
Why Laker Fans should be happy about this game
Orlando had everything working but barely won a four point game. While Orlando shot .625 from the field the Lakers shot .513 yet the Lakers were close at the end because they had 14 more shots in the game.
So far this playoff season the Lakers have had at least one game in each series in which they played poor defense and lost the game. Each time they have come back with much stronger defensive efforts.
What we should expect in GameFour
Orlando played Game Three in much the same way they played Game Two. The big difference was that they were at home and got good play from Pietrus and Alston. Don’t expect anything different from them, they found something that worked.
The Lakers got away from going inside early in Game Two and they continued that trend in Game Three.
The result was that Howard didn’t pick up early fouls and was effective as a primary rebounder. His rebounds resulted in a lot of fouls, he shot 16 in the game. Expect the Lakers to go straight at Howard more to get him playing tentative as he did in Game One.
For all the stats Orlando had this was a close game. The biggest adjustment the Lakers will make is better defensive effort. The Lakers should win a close Game Four.