Lakers-Magic: Game Two Running Diary

Jay KingCorrespondent IJune 8, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after defeating the Orlando Magic in overtime in Game Two of the 2009 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Time for another running draft diary.  In Game Two, the Magic desperately need a win.  Whereas a 2-0 deficit wouldn't be insurmountable, after playing so poorly in the first game the Magic need a good performance if only for their confidence.

I'm very curious to see how they respond to the Game One blowout.  To this point, they've responded very well to every setback, including the Celtics' Game Five comeback and Lebron's game-winner.  

I know one game can be misleading, and playoff momentum often cannot be carried from one game to the next, but the Lakers looked far superior to the Magic in Game One.  

First Quarter

  • Ugly, ugly first quarter so far.  6-6 halfway through the first quarter, and both teams are playing very sluggishly.
  • Kobe hits a stutter-step jumper in Hedo's mug.  Is there a better player in NBA history at shooting contested jumpshots?  Sometimes, I think hitting those contested jumpshots is his greatest strength, but it can also get him in trouble because he thinks every shot he takes is a good shot.
  • Partially due to foul trouble, J.J. Redick checks in super early, for him.  It's been insane how Van Gundy has yanked around his minutes.  He started against the Celtics, never got off the bench against the Cavaliers, and now he's getting first quarter action and guarding Kobe Bryant in the Finals.  Huh?
  • I'm not sure if Stan Van Gundy only went to this lineup because of early foul trouble, but Gortat and Howard are playing at the same time.  I don't like that at all.  The Magic are in the Finals because they surround Dwight Howard with four skilled perimeter players.  In order to try to match up with the Lakers, Van Gundy is going away from what got his team into the Finals.
  • Also in is Jameer Nelson.  You have to think that Jameer's mere presence has to cause Rafer Alston to play a little worse.  If Rafer is still going to get the brunt of the minutes, I would think about benching Jameer entirely.  Rafer is looking over his shoulder and seems not to be playing as loose as he did in the Cavaliers series.  
  • The lowest combined-scoring first quarter in NBA history painfully comes to an end.  Watching that quarter was like repeatedly and intentionally stubbing your toe.  
Second Quarter
  • Rashard Lewis with an early post move over Walton.  I've been thoroughly impressed with Lewis the whole playoffs.  He is a matchup nightmare, and is far stronger than I knew.  Rashard is very tough to guard down low because he's long, strong, and has great touch.
  • J.J. Redick gets his shot pinned off the backboard by Lamar Odom.  I'm a big Redick fan, but that was ugly.
  • Sasha Vujacic just bricked a three from the corner.  Vujacic is a shell of the player he used to be.  I vote for changing his nickname from "The Machine" to "Out of Order."
  • Rashard Lewis is going to work in this quarter.  Even for the long, athletic Lakers, Lewis is still a matchup problem.  I still think he's overpaid, but he's trying his best during these playoffs to justify his $126 million contract.
  • 26-26 tie with 5:54 left.  Still an ugly, ugly game.
  • The Magic aren't scoring well, and they have a ton of turnovers, but they are out-working the Lakers.  21-13 right now on the boards, and the Magic have a number of second opportunities already.  They haven't paid off yet, but if the Magic continue to get those chances, they'll start to capitalize.
  • They just showed replays of this, but I've noticed it throughout the series - Pau Gasol, aka "The Big Poodle", has played terrific, physical defense on Dwight Howard so far.
  • Kobe hits a three, then Lewis answers right back.  Lewis is almost single-handedly keeping the Magic afloat in this game.
  • Another Laker jumper, another Lewis three. 18 points in the second for Lewis, and 20 for the game so far.
  • They just showed a replay of one of Lewis' threes, and Lamar Odom was sitting underneath the hoop, not guarding anyone.  My question is how do you lose the only guy scoring for the Magic, the guy with the hottest hand on the court?  There is no excuse for plays like that.
  • 40-35 Lakers lead at halftime.  Kobe hasn't done much, but the Lakers have gotten very balanced scoring.  When they spread the ball around and everyone contributes, they seem to be at their best, although it certainly isn't their offense keeping them ahead right now.
  • The Magic need to get more inside touches.  They have spent all their time on the perimeter, like always, but almost none of it has been off Dwight Howard kick-outs.  When the Magic ran their offense through Dwight they got open looks almost every time, whether it was Dwight scoring himself or Dwight kicking it out to shooters.
  • The halftime piece on Trevor Ariza was sad.  Incredibly sad.  But did anybody see the way Ariza just lifted up his tiny little son who dunked it?  He stood under the hoop, raised his two-year old into the air, and the kid was almost at the hoop.  Ariza has incredibly long arms.  Wow.  That was an impressive look at his wingspan.
Third Quarter
  • Wow.  The Magic don't have a fast-break point yet in the series.  That's unbelievable.  
  • Mark Jackson quote about Rashard Lewis's first half: "We've all been invited to the party.  Somebody get on the dance floor with me."  Couldn't have said it better myself.
  • Howard starts off the second half with an inside touch and nice hook shot.  The Lakers shouldn't be able to handle him inside.
  • Three easy buckets to start the second half for the Magic.  That's probably more than they had the entire first six quarters of this series.  Lakers look flat, and the Magic came out very strong out of halftime.
  • Kobe, locked up by J.J. Redick for much of the first half, scores six quick ones over Courtney Lee to start the third.  Lee is a very good defender, but lacks the size to bother Kobe's jumper.
  •  The Magic are pounding it inside to Howard and attacking with penetration.  A far different Magic team than the one from the first half.
  • Rafer Alston 1-6 from the field after a gross airball.  He is definitely looking over his shoulder at Nelson.  And why wouldn't he?  He's been playing 35 minutes per game without a threat to playing time and now, all of a sudden, he' got an All-Star point guard breathing down his neck.  As I'm still writing this, he throws up another brick.
  • By the way, I was kidding about J.J. Redick locking up Kobe.  I was just trying to see how many Kobe fans I could insight for a few lines.  But, seriously, J.J. did a great job on him in the first half.
  • The Magic should be embarrassed.  After a Howard turnover, Howard and Lewis both stood in the Lakers backcourt watching as Ariza ran the other way and fed a wide open Bryant for a dunk.  How can you not hustle? It's the NBA FU#$ING FINALS!!!  
  • The Lakers are a lot better this year at playing ugly.  Last year, a game like this would have favored anybody but the Lakers.  This year, they have shown the ability to grind out physical ballgames. 
  • Howard inside again, kickout to Hedo Turkoglu for three.  The Magic look great when they start the offense with a Howard post touch.
  • Jameer Nelson must have one hell of a work ethic.  To not only come back this season, but come back in reasonable shape, Nelson must have worked incredibly hard.
  • Another post touch for Howard, another three for Hedo off the kickout.
  • Odom hits a jumper over Gortat.  If the Magic stay with this big lineup, including both Gortat and Howard, Odom should kill Gortat.  
  • I don't like this big lineup for the Magic at all; they are handily out-rebounding the Lakers anyways and in no way are they getting hurt inside - There is no need to go with the big lineup that just takes away one skilled offensive performer. 
  • Phil Jackson just told his team in the huddle to "make some shots."  That must be why they aren't shooting well - They haven't been trying to make shots yet, just take them.
  • Bryant hits another jumper.  He's had a great third quarter.  
  • Fisher hits a three.  He has had a good game, after I've spent a lot of time bashing him for his sub-par playoff play.  
  • Quarter over.  65-63 Magic.  Shaping up to be a potentially very good fourth quarter.  Both teams started to heat up offensively in the third.  
Fourth Quarter
  • Odom goes right around Gortat for a layup to open up the fourth-quarter scoring.  Gortat cannot guard him if Odom stays aggressive.  
  • Odom now has Lewis on him, but his success against Gortat has given him confidence, and he just scored two more buckets.  Not only is Odom scoring at will, but Mark Jackson just made the obligatory "I have to eat more candy if it makes you play like that" joke.
  • After another Odom jumper, Howard first travels, then shoots a lefty floater that gets cleanly blocked, but Pau is called for the foul.  Just a huge bailout call by the refs.
  • Rashard Lewis hits his fifth three, and now has 27 points.  I thought he might struggle a little this series because of the Lakers' length and athleticism in the frontcourt, but he has been just as solid against the Lakers as he has been all postseason.  He has really used this playoffs as a coming-out party.
  • This one possession typifies the ugliness of this game:  Turkoglu comes off a screen-and-roll, jumps in the air, fades away, and fires an ill-advised pass to Kobe, who then comes downcourt and fires up a leaning fadeaway that draws nothing but air.  Fisher ended up scoring later in the possession, but this game has been truly disgusting.
  • Howard gets called for a tough foul on the offensive glass, then Gasol hits a difficult fadeaway right over Howard.  Big swing.
  • Another bad call when Howard loses the ball while on his way up for a layup.  The refs are calling a lot of ticky-tack touch fouls in the fourth quarter after not calling much the rest of the game.  All playoffs, this has been the trend.
  • Kobe goes to the hoop, gets cleanly blocked by Howard, another foul.  The refs have done their job to officially neuter basketball.  If a guy goes to the hoop at any point in the fourth quarter, it seems like he'll end up on the free throw line.
  • Next, a weak offensive foul call on Hedo, then a foul on a Kobe jumpshot.  There have now been foul calls on five straight possessions.  Unbelievable and unacceptable.  All the calls have been questionable.
  • J.J. Redick update:  Though he hasn't scored or done much of anything offensively, J.J. Redick is on the court with three minutes left in the game.  While Redick was at Duke, if you would've told anybody in the country that J.J. would wind up as merely a defensive specialist in the NBA, you would have been immediately placed in the nearest mental institution.  
  • Redick for three, right after I call him "merely a defensive specialist".  Sorry, J.J.
  • What a nifty shot by Rashard Lewis.  The Magic really have a knack for making big shots.  Their whole team has, very surprisingly (at least to me), done a great job in the clutch during these playoffs.
  • Lakers have the ball with a tie game, nine seconds left.  I think it's safe to say Kobe will be taking this shot to try to end the game.  
  • What a block!  Turkoglu from behind on Bryant.  Bryant clamors for a foul despite no contact whatsoever.  
  • The last three minutes were wildly entertaining.  The referees did the unthinkable and swallowed the whistles for the last three minutes, and the results were a terrific three minutes where each team made play after play.  
  • Wow.  Lee had an easy look at a layup to end the game, but just plain missed it.  Wow the Lakers really dodged a bullet there.
  • Lakers get on the board first with two free throws.
  • Hedo Turkoglu has great patience.  Running the pick-and-roll, Hedo does a great job of keeping his dribble until Howard can slip the pick and get open at the rim.  
  • Bryant again demonstrates his unbelievable ability to hit contested shots, hitting an extremely tough fadeaway over Turkoglu.
  • Fisher with a great steal and two free throws.  He looks like a young Derek Fisher tonight rather than the washed-up version we've seen through most of the playoffs.
  • Pau Gasol with the and-one finish, and this one might be over.  
  • Lewis with his sixth three of the game.  Magic down three, barring the replay (which is too close to call).  
  • Cut to the Magic bench, where Stan Van Gundy looks dapper with his new haircut and freshly-trimmed mustache.
  • Rashard is given three points, but Odom hits two free throws and the Lakers win, 101-96.
  • This one is going to be a very tough one for the Magic to swallow.  If Courtney Lee had just finished a layup on the last play of regulation, the Magic win this game and steal home-court advantage.  That missed layup could ultimately be the difference in this whole series.  
  • Now, the Magic need to try to go home and win three games, with the 2-3-2 format unique only to the finals.  If the Magic take care of business at home, they'll return to L.A. needing to steal one of the last two games.  However, I don't know if they'll ever get back to L.A. - this series could be done before that.  I don't see the Magic winning more than one game.

For this diary and much more, visit Celtics Town

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