A three-headed monster defeated the Orlando Magic last night.
No, I'm not talking about Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and (surprisingly) Trevor Ariza.
I'm talking about missed free throws, turnovers, and bad basketball IQ in the fourth quarter.
Hedo Turkoglu, who sliced and diced his way though the Lakers defense, came up short in two critical moments in the fourth quarter. With 5:06 left in the game and the Magic down 77-76, Turkoglu (an 85 percent free throw shooter in the playoffs) went to the line to shoot two with a chance to put them ahead by one point.
Both of them rimmed out.
He had a chance to redeem himself with 3:24 left in the game with Magic down by one.
He made one of two.
In his defense, when the score was tied at 82, he did hit a clutch, step-back three-pointer (that took some serious lower intestinal fortitude to take at the time) to put them up by three, and then followed up with a runner to give the Magic a five-point lead with under 1:20 left to play in the game.
That's when the game really got interesting.
The Lakers closed to within three on a fast break off of a defensive miscue (one of many miscues by Orlando). Then Orlando went to their bread and butter, as Turkoglu found Dwight Howard making his move toward the basket. He was fouled by Kobe Bryant, sending him to the line with 11.1 seconds left to play in regulation.
It is these 11.1 seconds that will haunt him throughout the remainder of the series.
Howard had a monster game, scoring 16 points, bringing down 21 rebounds, and blocking an NBA Finals record nine shots. But he will be remembered for the final 11.1 seconds in regulation.
One free throw makes it a two-possession game.
Howard went to the line, went through his normal routine.
First shot rims out.
The game's excitement level rises up a notch.
Second shot goes back iron, and Ariza rebounds the ball. Lakers call timeout with 10.4 left in the game.
The Lakers inbound the ball from full court. Bryant has the ball, gets doubled, finds Ariza, who then finds Derek Fisher, who dribbles to the right wing, stops, and pulls up a three as Jameer Nelson (who shockingly played off of him) can only get a hand up.
Before Fisher took that shot, he was 0-5 from three.
He was 1-6 after that.
Why didn't Nelson just play up on Fisher and let him dribble to the basket, which would have taken time off the clock? It would have given the Magic a one-point lead.
Instead the game goes into overtime, and the rest is history.
You can't beat anyone when you go 22-37 from the foul line.
You can't beat anyone when you turn the ball over 17 times.
You can't beat anyone when you don't know the time and score.
It looks real bleak for Orlando right now.
Magic fans, I have one question before I go: Where was Rafer Alston in the fourth quarter?
Just thought I'd put that out there.
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