07' Trade Shoots Magic in the Foot

Matt SheaCorrespondent IJune 12, 2009

Well Trevor, what a homecoming to your old stomping grounds of four years.

Fortunately, the Magic did not feel the wrath of Ariza until Game Four when he made his presence felt.

It was a minor deal that sent Trevor Ariza from Orlando to L.A. in 2007.

It’s now a huge reason the NBA finals have swung back in the Lakers’ favor.

Ariza refreshed a team that was lifeless in the first half with 13 points in the third quarter.

“He just made big plays,” Kobe Bryant said of Ariza. “He kept the floor spaced and knocked down shots.”

Ariza was scoreless in the first half, continuing a disappointing finals on the offensive end. Then he basically outscored the Magic by himself over the next 12 minutes as the Lakers dove into the lead.

The forward has mostly been known for defense since L.A. acquired him in the first month of the 07'-08' season for forward Brian Cook and swing man Maurice Evans.

He played tough defensively against Hedo on Thursday, but the Lakers couldn’t have won this game without his scoring surge.

“Turkoglu had a great first half and Trevor came out and just found something out there, made a big shot when the clock was running down on us, kind of a loose-ball situation,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “He really carried a lot of energy for us the second half. We needed everything he could give us.”

No longer primarily a slasher, Ariza has developed a reliable jumper—he shot 50 percent from three-point range in the Western Conference playoffs—and his perimeter shooting turned around a game that was all Orlando after the Magic opened a 49-37 halftime advantage.

After going 9-of-30 in the first three games, Ariza missed all six attempts in the first half. He was so frustrated he slammed the ball on the court after he was called for a foul, and was then assessed a technical.

He came up with a steal and dunk early in the third for his first basket of the game, then did more damage away from the rim.

Ariza hit a 10-foot jumper, then buried two three-pointers a short time apart as the Lakers cut the lead to 54-53. He found Bynum under the basket, and after Bynum was fouled and hit the two free throws, Los Angeles was in the lead for the first time since early in the first half.

He had one more basket later in the period as L.A. outscored Orlando 30-14 in the quarter and got Turkoglu, the Magic’s leading scorer in the first half, in foul trouble.

It looked as if the Lakers would waste his effort when Orlando recovered to take a three-point lead with under three minutes left in regulation. Then, with the shot clock about to expire after a scramble, Ariza fired in another three to tie it at 82.

Ariza’s 16 points were double what he averaged in the series, and he grabbed nine rebounds in 44 minutes. Not bad for a guy the Magic unloaded in part because they didn’t think much of him as a shooter.

“I don’t cry over the past or worry about spilled milk,” Ariza said. “I’m just focused on my team and winning the championship.”