Lakers Get That Boom Boom Pau: Graphing NBA Finals Game Two

Roger PAnalyst IJune 8, 2009

Kobe Bryant didn't score 40 points in Game 2, but he didn't have to. Pau Gasol came to play.

The game went to overtime, but by the end it didn't feel like it—Gasol scored seven of the Lakers' 13 overtime points, and the Lakers closed out a five-point victory to go up 2-0 in the series.

The Magic fixed a lot of their Game 1 problems, and the Spider Graphs show a respectable well-rounded effort:

From Game 1 to Game 2, the Magic reversed their deficits in assists (-8 to +2) and rebounds (-14 to +9), and shot a respectable 41.8 percent from the field, up over their abysmal 29.9 percent in Game 1.

If you take a look at the team graph from Game 1, you can see how the Lakers dominated the Magic in all three offensive categories (in the top of the graph)—it wasn't so in Game 2. But in the end, it paid off to give Kobe some help.

Gasol scored 24 points and pulled down ten boards, putting in his 14th double-double performance in the playoffs—out of a total of 20 games.

Remember, though, that if Courtney Lee's potentially game-winning layup had gone in at the end of regulation, we'd be telling a completely story. And most of it would have to do with Rashard Lewis.

Lewis scored 34 points to lead the Magic, and he and Hedo Turkoglu combined to shoot 9-18 from behind the arc.

Consider this: At halftime, no Laker had scored more than seven points. No Magic player had scored more than four, except for Lewis—who had scored 20.

Both the Magic and Laker team in this series are unique in that their point guards are nearly invisible. In this game was the first time in the series for either team that a point guard led the team in assists (Jameer Nelson led Orlando with a paltry four), and point guards have combined to score only 45 of the roughly 400 points scored across the two games.

If Nelson was playing to his fullest, this wouldn't be true. But in this series, it is.

Derek Fisher, who took flak in previous playoff series for being too slow to keep up, has been the highest-scoring point guard (nine points and 12 points)—silencing the detractors who prefer Shannon Brown (no points in either game) or Jordan Farmar (zero points in Game 1, four in Game 2).

To make it visual, here's a point guard graph averaging both games. I've include Fisher, Nelson, and Orlando starter Rafer Alston (I would have included a backup Lakers PG if they had one that had stats worth graphing):

The veteran Fisher is the only one shooting the ball at least reasonably well, and he's come up with some clutch steals (including two in the overtime period last night). While he's not going to be the Lakers' starting point guard for the future because of his age, he's holding his own in this Finals and hasn't proved a liability.

And speaking of non-liabilities, Howard's performance in Game 2 give us a much more balanced superstar graph:

Howard redeemed his girly Game 1 performance by scoring 17 points on 5-10 shooting, but more than anything he came out to play as the Defensive Player of the Year. The bottom half of the graph represents defensive statistical categories, and it doesn't take a second glance to notice that Howard was a brick wall defensively in the paint.

Kobe's graph is nice as well, but after his Game 1 work-of-art graph, everything seems like a disappointment.

What we lack between Game 1 and Game 2 are strong trends, since the Magic played so differently in both games. While we've criticized the Lakers for being inconsistent during the playoffs, they're the ones that have played well both nights.

Now the series is off to Orlando, and we'll see if the Magic can turn things around.

Or if they get the boom boom dropped on them again.


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