The apologists will say that the Lakers didn't win, that Orlando simply "lost" the game. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but in my view, I don't care how you paint it: The Lakers so far have shown to be the better team. I'm sorry if that upsets Orlando fans, but it's hard to simply dismiss the 3-1 based on a missed layup and a few bricks.
The Lakers spanked Orlando. L.A. out-rebounded them, out-shot them, and won convincingly. I doubt anyone can argue that. Kobe had 40 points, dismantled Orlando, and embarrassed them.
Laker haters argue that if it weren't for Lee's missed layup, Orlando would have won this game. I argue that if Kobe hadn't gotten blocked by Turkoglu the play before Lee's, he would have made his shot and the Lakers would have been up by two, meaning Lee's alley-oop would have only sent it to overtime.
Orlando lost, fair and square; Lee's layup didn't cost them the game, the Lakers simply made their shots.
Those who oppose L.A. talk about missed opportunities, and I can say that the Lakers lost Game Three, point blank. But if you want to discuss possibilities, consider this: If Kobe had made both his free throws instead of just one of them, the lead would have been down to one instead of two at 104-103, and then when Pietrus came back and hit both free throws, the Lakers would have been down by three instead of four, and the face of the game would have been completely different. The Lakers wouldn't have needed two possessions, and a three-pointer could have tied the contest.
But you know what? Kobe missed his free throw and the Lakers lost.
Blame it on the poor free throws or turnovers, but I can safely say that if Kobe doesn't go 11-for-31 (let's say at the very least he goes 15-for-31) and the Lakers other than Ariza don't go 5-for-19 from the three-point line, the Lakers win by at least 10.
Put it simply: Orlando's turnover woes are offset by the Lakers poor three-point performance, and Orlando's poor free throws can be offset by Kobe's horrendous FG percentage. It's plain and simple, the better team won yesterday, as they have for most of the series.
People are in the habit of saying that a team "didn't win" and that "the other team simply gave it away" or "lost." But that's just a way to save face, as they fail to give the other team any credit, like the hare got beat by the tortoise.
The thing is, unlike the hare with his opponent, Orlando has not proven that they can beat the Lakers convincingly; even during the regular season, their margin of victory was never more than six points.
I argue that the Lakers are the better team, more talented, and will ultimately win. If they don't win and Orlando comes back, I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong and Orlando was the better team. But right now, results are everything, and judging so far, the only thing Orlando has proved is that they cannot put the Lakers away, while the Lakers have proven they can pull away with the "W" by any means.
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