Despite a less than exemplary defensive performance, the Lakers went into Orlando and exacted some revenge. A complete team game led by the tandem of Kobe and Pau had a little cardiac kids flashback, but in the end, the persistent focus of the Lakers in the second half won the day.
That whole defending the three thing looked like it was going to destroy the Lakers early on. For the umpteenth time, the Lakers decided to keep fading off of proven or hot shooters on the arc. Sure there’s Howard to deal with and without Andrew everyone needs to help in the middle, but that was nuts. No matter how much help you’re looking to throw down to the paint, there shouldn’t be that many consistently open opportunities from long range. Doubling Howard is one thing, but the Lakers didn’t and don’t need to help out off of outside shooters for every ball that comes down the lane.
Though not as consistent as Bynum, Odom, Turiaf and Gasol can handle most slashers making their way down the lane. The rest of the Lakers have to show the same faith they were learning to show with Bynum in the other Laker bigs.
One big soft spot was late help to drives in the paint. That late help opened up the middle and left Odom or Gasol looking back and forth as to where to go. Unfortunately, the outside was left gaping most of the time.
Doubles were also slow to let go in the first quarter. Once the rebound was wrangled by Howard the Lakers stood stagnant with two guys on him, often leaving a baseline run or open spots on the arc all over the place.
It wasn’t the offense of the Lakers in that torrid first, 33 points is usually enough to get the job done. Rather, it was the confused looking Laker defense that let the Magic get into rhythm early. That early rhythm is a dangerous thing to play around with. But, with the driven team that the Lakers are quickly becoming, the mistakes of the first were quickly sealed up and suddenly the Magic had trouble getting back to where they were.
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