Could The Lakers Have Punched Themselves Out?

Aaron HarrellCorrespondent IJune 10, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 09:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks up during the final minutes of the Lakers' loss to the Orlando Magic in Game Three of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 9, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

If you were to tell me before Game Three, that the Los Angeles Lakers would shoot 50 percent from the field, Kobe Bryant would have started out making seven of his first  eight shots en route to 20 points at the half, while ending the night scoring 31 points, and dishing out 8 assists. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol would score 23 points on 9 of 11 shooting, and they would lose?

I wouldn't believe you.

In fact, I would have told you that you would have a better chance at winning the lottery before the Lakers would lose a game where they produced those kind of numbers.

Granted, the Magic shot lights out, shooting a blistering 62.5 percent from the field, an NBA Finals record, which was previously held by the 1991 Chicago Bulls, who happened to play against...

The Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant was spectacular Tuesday night in the first half.  He was efficient and in control of the game, however, he didn't count on Orlando missing only eight shots in the first half.  Normally a start like that out of Bryant, would spell certain doom for the opposition.  The Lakers went into halftime believing that Orlando couldn't keep this pace up.

But they did, to a certain extent.

Rafer Alston, who was on the other side of a milk carton in Games One and Two, had a Rucker Park flashback, skipping all over Derek Fisher, while Turkoglu made contested shots, Pietrus thinking that he's playing FIBA Basketball, Lewis showing his deadly marksmanship, and what has become a recurring theme, Howard making a living at the charity stripe.

But the question remains:

Could the Lakers have punched themselves out of this game or the series?

This was their best performance of the Finals so far.  In Game One they shot 46 percent from the field. Orlando played horrible in Game One, shooting a dismal 29 percent, while being out-rebounded by 13.  However, both teams took care of the ball as well, as both teams had eight turnovers.  In Game Two, L.A. shot 46 percent, lost the rebounding battle, but had 12 turnovers to Orlando's 20.  Orlando shot better in Game Two (41 percent), but shot themselves in the foot with turnovers.

If the Lakers play good basketball and Orlando doesn't, it equals a Lakers win.

If the Lakers play good basketball and Orlando plays a bit better than the game before, it equals a Lakers win.

If the Lakers play their best game and Orlando gives their best game, hate to say it, but Orlando is winning that game.

The Lakers tried to knockout the Magic last night. A 3-0 lead would have been insurmountable for the Magic and total confidence for the Lakers. Instead, it leaves the Lakers frustrated, knowing they went all out for this game, and it still wasn't enough.

Be that as it may, the Magic still has to play catch-up, as they are still down 2-1 in the series.