Mike Wilbon: “The Lakers have the best player. It doesn't matter what the Magic do, it's all about the Lakers. And you have to beware of the Kobe scowl.”
I would be more worried about stopping him, considering he scored 40 points and added eight rebounds in the first game, which was considered by Kobe Bryant and his coach to be a bad game...Glad we got that cleared up.
Stuart Scott: “blah blah blah, Zen Master, blah blah, X-factor, blah blah, insert every big game cliché I've ever heard, blah blah.”
Jeff Van Gundy (JVG): “The key to everything is the versatility of Gasol and Odom.”
The National Anthem is performed by a seven-year-old girl whose name I won't even begin to try to spell.
The officials for this game include Joe Crawford and Derrick Stafford...I have a bad feeling about this.
11:37 Hedo Turkoglu draws front rim on his first shot. An omen of things to come?
11:03 Lakers switch on Rashard Lewis/Dwight Howard screen. Magic swing ball around for Lewis lay-in.
10:40 Pau Gasol blows by Lewis for dunk. The next possession brings Courtney Lee on a double-team.
9:52 Howard called for a goaltend. He is being very aggressive on defense. 6-2 Lakers lead.
8:22 As in first two games, Lakers mixing up defense on Howard. No surprise here, this game will come down to Magic shooting.
7:27 Trevor Ariza attacks rim and gets putback dunk on his own miss.
6:31 Lakers are still swarming Howard on defense.
6:11 Mark Jackson, “If they're going to leave you open, you have to score.”
5:40 Kobe gets on the board. He is the last Laker starter to score.
5:07 Kobe makes a 3. Lakers lead 17-13. Oh...and he has the scowl going.
During the first break, the Van Gundy's Dad informs us that, “Jeff was the better player.”
3:52 Rafer Alston makes a three-pointer, proving he has a pulse.
2:13 Mark Jackson, “SVG loves ball movement and man movement.”
1:25 We see the first appearance of the patented Kobe one-on-five offense...he drains a jumper in Hedo's face...and scowls.
- Alston is playing well. He's flying the ball up court, looking to attack and making open jumpers. 27 all.
- Tony Battie blocks Kobe shot out of bounds. Kobe takes the inbound pass, makes a three and gets fouled. Oh, and we have a D.J. Mbenga sighting.
- We now have a Sasha Vujacic sighting as well. What the heck is going on? It doesn't matter anyway, as Kobe just shoots anyway.
End of first quarter: Lakers lead 31-27
Interview with Phil Jackson.
Q: “What was your reaction to Kobe's play?”
A: “He was good.”
11:27 Mickael Pietrus backs down Luke Walton, who has no chance.
10:58 Jameer Nelson takes seven steps on a drive to the hoop, then has the nerve to complain about the traveling call.
10:07 Vujacic flops and then stays on the ground trying to sell the call. This leads to a Magic fast break.
9:03 Mark Jackson: “give the ball to Howard when he's open.” Wow, that's deep.
8:18 Jordan Farmar is in the game, not afraid to shoot, making shots when he's open, being aggressive.
7:43 Andrew Bynum airballs a seven-footer. He is pressing badly.
6:57 Pietrus is literally inside Kobe's jersey and changing his underwear for him. Kobe still makes a three and has 20.
5:31 The Magic are 19-of-27 from the field. They still trail 46-45.
ABC plays a 10-year-old Green Day song (Hitchin' a ride) into the commercial break.
SVG (translated), “if he's (Kobe) shooting like this, we can't win.” Kobe scowls.
4:23 Alston already has 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting. Magic lead 49-48.
3:27 Mark Jackson, “he's like an adult playing against kids.”
2:25 Lewis gets an offensive rebound, but is then called for a charge.
2:10 Pietrus is defending Kobe as well as a human possibly can. Then he and Hedo both bite on a pump fake, sending him back to the line.
1:05 Lewis drains back-to-back threes heading to the half. Magic lead 59-54.
Magic are shooting 75 percent from the field, the best shooting half in Finals history. They have 17 team assists. This is as good as they can possibly play...and they only lead by five!
11:51 The broadcast team can't get over how Brian Shaw's suit makes him look like Don Johnson (Miami Vice-era of course).
11:10 Gasol starts every half with a post up score over Lewis. Magic 61-56.
10:16 Ariza gets another putback on his own miss. A box-out, anyone?
9:21 The Lakers are playing from behind for the first time this series.
8:51 Courtney Lee makes a drive and a monster dunk on the baseline.
8:30 With the shot clock down to two seconds, Kobe draws a foul on Lee 24 feet away from the hoop. Kobe makes two of three from the line. Magic lead 65-61.
7:24 A big Ariza three stops the momentum. 65-64 Magic.
6:10 Ariza gets a putback on his own miss for the third time...this quarter!
5:54 Lee is getting under Kobe's skin. Kobe is now forcing it. He has one point so far in the quarter.
5:10 I'm pretty sure Howard has never seen a moving screen he couldn't set.
4:23 JVG correctly notes that Howard is bringing the ball down (and also dribbling) way too much, just giving away easy scores.
4:09 Kobe is just 4-of-8 from the free throw line.
3:18 Gasol jogs right down the middle of the court and takes a pass for an easy dunk. 73-68 Orlando.
2:28 A Lewis three makes it 77-69. All the Magic shots that didn't go down in the first two games are now falling.
2:11 SVG has finally figured out that Alston being in the game gives his team their best chance to win.
1:17 A Kobe three makes it 77-75 Magic. Kobe started 8-of-11 from the field, but is 1-of-9 since.
- Battie is getting minutes ahead of Gortat.
- 17.8 Howard scores on a running jump hook, which is the only offensive move he has.
End of third quarter, Magic lead.
Doris Burke: “What is different tonight?”
SVG: “The ball is going in the basket.”
Wow, just wow.
11:42 If Battie is going to keep making 16-foot jumpers, the Magic should definitely win.
10:05 Lamar Odom gets aggressive. Magic lead 85-79.
8:46 Magic lead 87-81. They look poised and ready to win this game. Some Lakers are pressing a bit, but on the whole they still look calm.
7:13 Kobe re-enters the game for the stretch run.
7:00 Odom scores his third straight hoop on the block and gets to the foul line again.
6:24 Hedo dares Ariza to shoot. Ariza buries a three. Magic 93-88. Mark Jackson rambles about “airspace control.”
6:10 Ariza flops on a Howard screen, but sells it well enough to get the call.
5:38 JVG: “You cannot reconfigure your game at this point in the year. You have to win or lose playing your game.”
5:21 A Derek Fisher three makes it a 95-93 game. The pressure shifts back to Orlando.
3:37 Kobe comes off a Gasol screen and makes an open jumper. 99-97 Orlando.
2:41 Kobe is still being patient, repeatedly giving Gasol the ball on the block. Gasol ties game at 99. Lakers are on a 17-8 run.
2:17 Pietrus gets a big dunk after a Hedo miss.
1:54 Alston attacks the rim and gets to the line. 102-99 Orlando lead.
1:38 Magic effectively double Kobe, who is bailed out by a whistle.
1:06 Lewis makes a jumper with the shot clock winding down (and his foot on the line).
- Out of a timeout Kobe goes straight to the rim. Howard gets called for a foul on a clean block.
JVG: “The first thing you have to do is get the ball inbounds.”... really?
- The Lakers get a stop on Lewis' baseline move.
- Pietrus picks Kobe's pocket, gets fouled and makes the free throws. Magic lead 106-102.
- Kobe forces and misses a three. He is two for his last 12.
- After a series of three-point attempts (and no Orlando rebound), Kobe ends up with the ball and a put-in...he still has the scowl.
A personal foul needs to be called on the confetti-drop person, who delays the game several minutes.
Lewis' free throws close out the game and the Magic win 108-104.
The Magic basically played the absolute best game they are possibly capable of and still had to sweat it out until the buzzer in a game the Lakers easily could have mailed in.
That does not bode well for the rest of the series.
On the other hand, the Magic are only a Courtney Lee layup from leading two games to one. Game Four is Thursday.
The Lakers can still break the Magic's spirit with a win.
The Magic, on the other hand, can make it a whole new series.
This thing is far from over and I'll be here loving every second of it.
And that's how I saw it.