The Credits 6/8/09

Man, oh man !  The last few minutes of last night's game were nerve-racking.   Lakers win, 101 - 96.  Fortunately for us, the Lakers pulled it out, even though we didn't play as good as we can.  If your a Magic fan, you should have every reason to be encouraged.  You should also be discouraged.   Rashard Lewis and hedo Turkoglu woke up and played up to their capability, and you had a legitimate chance to win at the buzzer.   But still lost a heart breaker.

Magic show improvement in Game 2 but still lose - FOX Sports on MSN
They may have done much more than that. L.A.'s OT win Sunday may have demoralized Orlando in a way that their Game 1 romp couldn't begin to. While talk that the NBA Finals were over after L.A.'s blowout win in the opener was undoubtedly premature, the Lakers' narrow escape Sunday lends considerable credence to the argument. It's because the Magic overcame their Game 1 jitters, corrected many (albeit, not all) of their mistakes from the series opener and found themselves with a golden opportunity to take home-court advantage away from L.A. And they still lost.

Lakers' Game 2 overtime win is a little over the top - Los Angeles Times
It wasn't beautiful, and it certainly wasn't Kobe Bryant's night, but Game 2 of the NBA Finals belonged to the Lakers after a 101-96 overtime victory Sunday against the Magic.Now?  The Magic are heading back to Orlando down 2-0, with nothing but cliches to go on. 

You're going to hear it.  All the Lakers did was win the games they were supposed to.   But does that really matter?  In the Finals?  The 2-3-2 Championship format is set up just for that, for the Champions to get it done.  If you want to be Champs, you have to win on the road.  Whether you have Home Court Advantage or not.  Champions make it happen.

SHELBURNE: Magic left holding empty bag of tricks after loss - LA Daily News
Championship teams make shots like that, runners-up lament them. Last season, in this very arena Ray Allen drove past Sasha Vujacic for a wide-open lay-up to complete the Celtics comeback from a 24-point deficit to win Game 4 of the NBA Finals and take a 3-1 lead. Afterwards the Lakers spent the next couple hours talking about how it had all gone so wrong, so fast. While Vujacic grabbed the biggest ladle he could find and heaped the loss on himself. Sunday night, the Lakers found themselves on the other side of that scenario. Complimenting their opponents' effort, acknowledging their own good fortune, and driving home happily into the night with a commanding 2-0 series lead.

 

Click on through for more Laker's Links after the Jump:

The chances of the home team winning two, losing three, and winning two are slim.  How slim?  It's only happened twice.  Detroit in 2004, and Miami in 2006.  Add that to the fact that the the team with Home Court Advantage up 2-0 has gone on to win the series 24 of 27 times.

WhoWins.com -- NBA Finals -- Leading, 2-games-0
In the NBA Finals, the team with Home Court Advantage up 2-0 is 10-17 (.370) in Game 3, with a series record of 24-3 (.889).

The odds are in the Magic favor to win Game 3, but even if they do the odds are stacked against them.

WhoWins.com -- NBA Finals -- Leading, 2-games-1
In the NBA Finals,  the team with Home Court Advantage is 17-19 (.472) in Game 4, with a series record of 32-4 (.889).

But what are the chances of the Magic taking Games 3 and 4?  The Lakers have not lost two games in a row in these yet.  I do not see the Best road team in the NBA not winning one in Orlando, nor should they lose two at home if they do go 1-2 in O-Town.  We're close to #15.

NBA.com: To climb from big Finals hole, Magic need history lesson
For a franchise that is zero-for-six in Finals games, winning the series against a team that has a four-game winning streak is daunting. Especially since the Magic will need to win the next three at home or go two-of-three in Orlando and then take two in Los Angeles.

Larry Ness NBA Basketball Article: 2009 NBA Finals: 2-3-2 Format (Advantage LA or Orlando?)
Now I'm not predicting an LA win but I do feel that history reveals that if the Magic are to beat the Lakers in this year's Finals, they'll most likely have to do it by winning at least twice in LA. It's not as if the Magic can't win all three home games (remember, the Pistons did it in '04 and the Heat did it in '06) but the Lakers were the NBA's best road team during the regular season (29-12) and just took two of three in Denver, where the Nuggets had won 16 straight games prior to the Western Conference finals.

Lakers survive in OT, put all pressure on Magic
Since the NBA Finals went to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, the home team winning the first two games has won 11 of the 12 such series. Overall, only three teams in 61 previous NBA Finals have come back from 2-0 deficits to win the series. "Now all the pressure is on them," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said.

So, we survived a scare.  Pulled it out in OT, and all we need is "2 Mo' "

Forum Blue And Gold " 2 Mo’
The Lakers made some poor shot choices and still won. To quote Darius: "I thought we were undisciplined in the way that we took too many long jumpers. Sure, those shots were open, but in game 1 those were shots that we passed on to look inside instead."

Even bobblehead Mariotti shares my 5 game prediction.

When Lee Missed, Magic Lost Series - NBA Fanhouse
The Lakers will win the series in five. Why? Well, did you see what I saw immediately after the game? Turkoglu, towel around neck, walked over to Jack Nicholson by his courtside seat and shook his hand. I don't care who it is -- Nicholson, Leo DiCaprio, Warren Beatty, the Red Hot Chili Peppers dudes, the "Entourage" guys or Denzel Washington, who uses the restroom in the media room, if you must know. If I'm Van Gundy, I don't want my players saying goodbye to anyone in L.A., figuring the Magic be back for Games 6 and 7 next week. Not only did the Turkish Michael Jordan seem like he was saying goodbye, he seemed overly impressed by Nicholson, who may as well be known as the Lakers' official mascot. Maybe it's because this was goodbye. The series isn't returning to California. It ended when Courtney Lee couldn't make a layup.

Although Kobe could have played better, we got great games from Pau and Lamar (except for LO's defense on Rashard).  Now, as expected, both have shed the soft label (for now).

Lakers fontcourt proves tough enough - OCRegister.com
A year ago in the NBA Finals, the Lakers' lanky, long-limbed frontcourt men were labeled "soft."But in the Lakers' Game 2 overtime victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night at Staples Center, forwards Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom were everything but soft. They have evolved in a season, becoming as tough in body and in mind as Brillo-pad bookends.

Gasol showing toughness he lacked last year - FOX Sports on MSN
A year ago, Pau Gasol was maligned — and not without reason — as the personification of all that was lacking in the Lakers. On Sunday, he was the best player on the floor. More than that — if you'll accept the perfectly reasonable premise that good defense is evidence of a hearty spirit — he was also the toughest.

NBA Playoffs: Gasol and Odom come up big in Game 2 - ESPN
One of the sexy storylines entering this season's playoffs was this: could Pau Gasol be tough enough and Lamar Odom consistent enough to help Kobe? Could the Lakers' not-so-dynamic duo be better this time around? After the first two games of the NBA Finals, the answer is a resounding "Yes.''

The "soft" tag has been tossed mainly because of their great rebounding and defense on Dwight (along with Andrew Bynum's defense), causing all types of problems for Orlando's offense.

Lakers' Pau Gasol makes the right changes - Los Angeles Times
He had 24 points and 10 rebounds Sunday in Game 2, yet another contribution toward the Lakers' cause. He also changed assignments numerous times throughout the game, from three-point marksman Rashard Lewis to bull-like center Dwight Howard because Andrew Bynum was limited to 16 minutes because of foul trouble."He had to go from guarding a three-point shooter to a brute down low," said Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis, who is in charge of the team's defensive scheme. "He's been a big part of our defensive success."

The SportingNews.com - The Baseline - Lakers Have Magic on Defensive
Despite the big numbers from Turkoglu, Lewis and Howard, overall, nothing came easy for the Magic's offense. The shooting wasn’t disastrous, as in Game 1, but the Magic still struggled Sunday in large part because the Lakers exploited their size advantage on the defensive end. They have the physical length and athleticism to harass the Magic’s perimeter shooters, and Orlando wound up shooting just 10 for 30 on 3-pointers. They have done a terrific job using their size to prevent entry passes to Howard, and when he does catch the ball, the Lakers have swarmed him with big, long-armed defenders. Howard had seven turnovers in Game 2.

Bynum gets another pass from Jackson
Is Phil Jackson concerned about his young center? Apparently not. "I think he’ll learn as he goes along," Jackson said. "He made a critical mistake with his fifth foul, trying to run through a pick instead of sliding his way through and wedging his way through that screen. "But I think he’ll find a way to be effective for us. We need him 20 minutes. We can’t play him for the kind of minutes (we need from him) when he’s in foul trouble."

20 Second Timeout: Lakers Edge Magic in Overtime to Take 2-0 Lead
After the game, Bryant said, "We blew a lot of assignments tonight" and you can bet that right at the top of that list were the numerous times that Odom inexplicably allowed Lewis to roam unchecked behind the three point line; Lewis scored 18 of Orlando's 20 second quarter points, making four three pointers and singlehandedly keeping the Magic in the game during the first half. During that run, Odom played what basketball aficionados might call "Carmelo Anthony defense" (or at least the defense that Anthony has played for the greater part of his career, though to be fair it must be noted that Anthony made strides at that end of the court this season): on several occasions Odom was neither close enough to Howard to form an effective trap nor was he within range to contest Lewis' shots. ABC commentators Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy rightly noted that Odom was truly in "La La land."

Kobe's game was so-so. He was 10-22 FG for 29 pts, 8 assists, 4 rebs, and 7 TO's.  The reason I think his game was so-so, was because it seemed like he was indecisive exactly how to attack the Magic.  I thought he settled for a few too many long jumpers, when he could've posted up like Game 1.  The Magic seemed to be half hearted in their traps and double teams but Kobe was a little slow in reacting.  Am I blaming it on him?  No, but his constant attacking kept the pressure on Orlando in Game 1.  But he did leave his imprint on the game, especially with a huge assist to Pau to healp seal the deal.

Magic issues, Odom's value, Kobe's shooting - NBA - SI.com
Three Observations by Chris Mannix

Kobe's Tentacles Finish Strong -- NBA FanHouse
But on occasion of Game 2, I decided to follow Kobe. It's an exhausting experience, as Mickael Pietrus and Jim Gray can attest. My particular goal was to see just how invasive Kobe's tentacles have become -- how frequently the Lakers can pull off a possession without Kobe's wresting the ball away and making a play for himself or a friend. I think the beautiful thing (if octopi can be beautiful, to which there remains much disagreement in the scientific world) is that Kobe's ball dominance hasn't come at the expense of his teammates.

Los Angeles Lakers News - NBA Finals - ESPNDB
Kobe's prime defender was Mickael Pietrus, who did a fairly good job on him. Pietrus denied Kobe a shot on 37 of 41 possessions in which he guarded him. He denied him the ball on 11 of 41. When other Magic defenders guarded Kobe, he took 13 shot attempts. He also took five shots when double-teamed. However, Pietrus fouled out with 3:08 in the fourth quarter. After Pietrus fouled out, Kobe had at least one touch in 12 of the final 14 Lakers possessions (he scored eight points).

I guess there is a reason why Stan Van Gundy was called the "Master of Panic" by Shaq. is e  There is already an isseue with Jameer Nelson coming back for the Finals, and Van Gundy is intensifying that problem by his weird rotation last night.  Rafer was terrible, and Jameer wasn't exactly good, he also wasn't bad, but neither of them played much in the 4th, in lieu of J.J. Reddick with Hedo handling the ball.  Hedo found his groove, but it came at Rashard Lewis' expense, and killed Jameer's confidence and worsened Alston's.  To top it off, Reddick and turkoglu combined for 4 costly turnovers in the 4th and OT.  Then Stan brings Rafer in a minute and a half into overtime.  The score was tied at 88 when he entered.  You know what happened after that - Lakers go on to win.  If you read my comments in last night's Game Threads, I was pleading for Rafer to return to the game.  I was shocked Van Gundy bothered.

There are times you have to trust your guys.  I was getting on Fisher as much as anyone these Playoffs, but PJ ignored everyone, and put faith in Derek, and he is playing well when it counts the most.   Van Gundy has done nothing but make players hesitant.  Rafer may have well just handed us the ball instead of shooting.  Thanks, Stan. 

Changing of the guard hurting Orlando? - LA Daily News
The Lakers continued their backcourt dominance in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Kobe Bryant scored 29 points and Derek Fisher had 12 for the Lakers. Courtney Lee had two points and Rafer Alston had four for the Orlando Magic. The glaring mismatch in production from the guards explained in part why the Lakers seized a 2-0 lead over the Magic in the best-of-7 series after recording a 101-96 overtime victory Sunday night at Staples Center.

Orlando's Heavy Rotation - TrueHoop By Henry Abbott - ESPN
Truth be told, an inch or two here and there could've given the Magic the win, and Van Gundy might have been heralded a genius for his tactics. There are sensible arguments on the pro and con sides of all of these issues. But his indecisiveness isn't allowing a team that predicates its game on rhythm to establish any. Orlando's roster gives Van Gundy tremendous flexibility and depth -- which could be just enough rope to hang himself.

It's the Fish that saved Los Angeles - LA Daily News
Derek Fisher was every bit the clutch veteran the Lakers needed Sunday.

Other Links:

NBA.com: 24-second thoughts from Game 2 of NBA Finals

Lakers-2, Magic-0 NBA Finals - dEDGE
If the Lakers continue to box in Howard in the paint, they should do well on the road. For however powerful and mighty he is, Superman has been but a mere mortal in this series. Until he is able to develop a go-to post move, the Lakers will continue to crowd him and force him to be a passer instead. Howard led the league in dunks this season. He has recorded one dunk in 8 quarters of play and has been challenged on every single move to the basket. The Lakers strength remains their ability to pick off errant passes off the double team. Odom, Ariza and Fisher have played this role to perfection. And with Kobe allowed to roam as a free safety, either the Magic’s guards or their three point threats in Lewis and Turkoglu, need to cut to the basket to make the Lakers pay. But they’ve been content to sit behind the arc and wait for the action to come to them rather than initiate it on their own.

SLAM ONLINE | " It Was Goaltending, But Who Cares?
Yes, Pau Gasol grazed the rim in the final milliseconds of regulation. By the book, it’s goaltending and the Magic should have won the game. But with the circumstances (the kinetic energy, the noise, the excitement, the stakes) as well as the results (Lee clunked the lay pretty bad), is there any way the game should’ve ended by the books.

Daily Dime: Lakers survive - NBA - ESPN
It wasn't pretty, but the Lakers topped the Magic for an OT win in Game 2.

Ball Don't Lie

SLAM ONLINE | » NBA Finals: Game 2 Live Blog

Audio/Video:

Post Game Interviews

LakersMedia.com HD Highlights  - Game 2

The Dan Patrick Show

Trevor Ariza Halftime Segment

The Basketball Jones

ESPN NBA Today

ESPN 710 Los Angeles

Los Angeles Times Video

 

 



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