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Lakers-Magic: What Los Angeles Must Do in Game Four

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 09:  Kobe Bryant #24 stands in front of Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the final moments 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)
travis proctorCorrespondent IJune 11, 2009

Game Three was exactly what Orlando wanted. Yes the Lakers shot the ball well, but I think it's pretty clear the Lakers don’t want to get into a shoot-out with the Magic.

In Game Four, someone from the Lakers might want to consider guarding Rafer Alston. I know the guy was M.I.A in Game One and Two, but you had to anticipate he would play much better at home.

Many of the things that were expected of the Magic happened in Game Three. The role players made shots and Dwight Howard was able to get some big dunks. The Magic were able to get in transition and get those open looks they need.

After three games it looks pretty obvious what each team needs to do to win.

The Lakers must keep the game in a half court set tonight. The Lakers are a very good offensive team, but they must stay patient and not fall in love with the three.

If the Lakers shoot 20 threes tonight they will not win.

The Lakers need to live in the paint. During Game One and Two, the Lakers successfully slowed down the game. Although the Lakers are capable of playing an up-tempo game, that would play directly into the hands of the Magic.

The biggest reason the Lakers have such a huge advantage in the half court is because of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. The Lakers have two great players who can get their own shot at any time and can create good looks for other players. They draw a double-team every time they touch the ball.

Tonight it would greatly benefit the Lakers to run their offense through Gasol more often. Odom and Gasol have played very well in these Finals and they should be a bigger focus of the game plan.

Kobe will be Kobe. Although he made some crucial mistakes at the end of Game Three, including a huge turnover, I would expect him to play smarter tonight.

The Lakers are at their best when Kobe facilitates and doesn't try to go one-on-five. As great as Kobe can be, he is still a streaky shooter. He can be far more effective against the Magic in the post and on the pick-and-roll with Gasol or Odom.

By the way, can the Lakers please get Greg Oden out of Andrew Bynum's uniform and put Bynum back in the game? I understand he is in a tough matchup and hasn’t been getting the benefit of many calls, but damn stop fouling son! You’ve got to be smarter after three games, don't you?

Finally, the Lakers cannot let themselves get frustrated if things aren't going their way. They have to keep a cool head. And Kobe, that goes for you, too. I know you want to win so bad you would probably play by yourself if you had to. But you don't. You have a lot of good players around you and if you start to lose your head your teammates will too.

Tonight I think the Magic will come out hot and hit a lot of shots early. The Lakers should be able to weather the storm and slow the game down to where they want it to be. As long as they can get a hand in the shooter’s face, they will be fine.

If the Magic get the same kind of shots they did in game three, we will have a tied series. If the Lakers can play a half court game we will see a 3-1 series.

With these contrasting styles, both teams have to fight to get the other to play to their strengths.

With the Lakers sporting a 6-0 record after losses in this post season, I think they will come out with a win tonight and really put the pressure on Orlando in Game Five.

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