It’s not Kobe Bryant. Who, while still the most dominant player in the game today, missed critical free throws down the stretch in game 3 and has shown an inability to trust his team mates late in the game when they are most open.
Nor is it Dwight Howard, who despite his athletic ability and sheer physicality, has not yet shown himself to be the leader the magic needs to rally from down 3-1 against the Lakers.
Hedo Turkoglu led the magic with 25 points and made two key jumpers with just under 2:11 left to play all but sealing the Lakers fate. Averaging just under 5 assists and 16 points per game in the playoffs, Turkoglu has proven that he is among the best players in the league today. Despite his missed free throws in the fourth and two critical jumpers in the 1st overtime, Hedo is still the most valuable player to the magic’s success in the playoffs thus far; if he can manage to continue his consistency the magic have a fighting chance to return to LA down one game in their bid for an NBA title.
Without 13 of Trevor Ariza's overall 16 points coming in the 2nd half the Lakers are looking at a totally different picture in this final series; tied 2-2 with one more game to be played in Orlando is certainly not what they need to keep the upper hand on a lights out shooting magic squad. the favorable situation at hand is one that is due, not solely to the efforts of Kobe Bryant, but the ever-improving play of Ariza and the clutch ability of finals shot maker Derek fisher to which the Lakers owe their 3-1 lead in these finals.
After watching two finals games go into overtime for the first time since Magic’s Lakers faced off against Bird’s Celtics in 1984, fans can be sure that this series is much better than the 3-1 mark might indicate. Be prepared to see another game in a highly underrated series, and see if both teams can get more of their role players involved to achieve the greatest prize in basketball.