Finals Game 2 Recap — The View from Orlando...

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Game 2 was actually 2 games.

One of them I hated. I can't imagine anybody really feeling otherwise: it was 15-15 at the end of Quarter 1, the lowest scoring period in NBA Finals history. The only guy capable of making a festival of missed jumpshots half-tolerable, Mister 24 Mamba Fellow, was a big 1-for-4 from the field. Kobe was not so much a facilitator as an enabler, and yes, I do mean that sarcastically.

The ugliness  continued throughout the 2nd Quarter, at which point the Lakers lead 40-35, as well as the 3rd, in which Orlando erased their halftime deficit and opened up a 2 point lead of their own. Nobody could hit a shot, it seemed, with the Blue Team smearing the Lakers all over the glass — but keeping 'em in it with miss after miss and a passel of turnovers.

Blech. Yuck. Gluck.

Then in the 4th Quarter both teams came to Jesus, figuratively speaking, and repented of their incompetent jumpshooting ways. Home team and Visitor alike started getting the ball to the rack with regularity and the nearly unwatchable clankcauphony of catastrophic ca-ca became a damned entertaining, closely fought basketball game played at a very high level.

Here's the POPCORN MACHINE LINK for a visual representation of the 4 lead changes in the 4th Quarter, which ended with the teams knotted at 88 thanks to two misses of great looks by stone-cold rookie Shooting Guard Courtney Lee. Note, if you will, that Captain Panic sat Lee for almost the entire second half before bringing him in to miss the two potential game-winners at the end. To quote the Guinness Guys: "Brilliant!"

Overtime pretty much belonged to the Lakers, despite a rather scary effort by Orlando to erase a 6 point lead with the 3-ball in the last half minute.

Let us together sing the praises of Stan Van Gundy, not only for his honest and entertaining press conferences, but for his completely disastrous rotations, which show all the markings of use of a Ouija board or some sort of a randomizing device. I am not aware of a worse coach with his player substitutions in the NBA.

Expect no notice of this fact from the ABC commentating crew, which includes his fawning brother.

The Magic Guard situation is now in complete disarray, sparked by the coy-decoy "yes he is / no he isn't / yes he is / no he isn't / yes he is" return of Jameer Nelson, which effectively put the streaky and sensitive starter Rafer Alston, upon whom the team relied in the back half of of the season and the first 3 rounds of the playoffs, into coldsville station. It is widely known that streak shooters are powered by confidence, but don't tell Stan, because that's obviously breaking news to him.

(More after the jump...)

Van Gundy's bizarre solution to rookie SG Lee's utterly predictable inability to guard Kobe amuses me most. When Orlando's best perimeter defender, Mickael Pietrus, went out with foul issues, Stan the Man moved Small Forward(sic.) Hedo Turkoglu onto Kobe (great decision, actually) and............. brought middling 9th man J.J. Redick into the mix, leaving starter Lee the role of casual viewer rather than active participant. Whoops! Shocked into reality by a key J.J. miss, goofus SVG hysterically inserted Lee at the 3:07 mark, just in time for those last two misses.

So now we have not only a PG controversy in Orlando, but an SG controversy.

Just take a look at the NBA.com BOXSCORE for the results of SVG's master chemistry with the perimeter folk: Courtney Lee, 2 points in 12 minutes; J.J. Redick, 5 points in 27 minutes; Mickael Pietrus, 2 points in 23 minutes; Rafer Alston, 4 points in 26 minutes; Jameer Nelson, 4 points in 17 minutes. That's 17 points in 105 minutes of player time from these 5 players. Thanks, Stan!

Orlando is all about their front line — Rashard torched Lamar like a gasoline-soaked marshmellow, Hedo got his points despite Trevor's terrific defense, and the capacities of that rather large Howard fellow are already well know. The deficit is at the guard position. Yikes. And wildly shuffling the Yikes players only adds to the mess, like adding more water to a bucket of mud...

I'm thinking a 5 game Laker win now, if not a sweep. I'm much, much, much higher on the Lakers' prospects after this narrow overtime win in Game 2 (a truly must-win game for Orlando that wasn't) than I was after the seemingly fortuitous Game 1 blowout, which had follow-up flop written all over it. Not that I ever thought the Lakers were going to lose this series — just that I thought it would be close. It seems I was wrong.

Bear in mind, I am not a super homerish homer of the Lakers. And I believe that The Queen Bitch, Home Court Advantage, is enormous. But there is something which trumps Her Supreme Nastiness — the implosion of a basketball team by an alignment of forces which cause a catastrophic collapse of confidence. This is exactly what we saw with the Utah Jazz at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs and now, down 2-0, it is what we are about to see again, I predict.

By the way: somebody who loves him needs to do an intervention with Stan Van Gundy, he seems to be on the edge of completely losing it. He scares me.

After we all take some time to watch The Greatest Thing in the World, THE BASKETBALL JONES, Episode 452, let's take a peak at how this tale of heartbreak is being spun in the Magic Kingdom, shall we?

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(1)

Courtney Lee's Magic Moment Comes Up Short as Orlando Loses Game 2 to the Los Angeles Lakers

by Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel

LOS ANGELES - Alley ... Oops.

The Orlando Magic were a layup away from getting even with the Los Angeles Lakers, but a simple miss has now made it complicated.

"If I make the play," Courtney Lee said, "it's over."

Lee's miss gave the Lakers a second life instead of a loss. They then beat the Magic 101-96 in overtime on Sunday night at Staples Center to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals.

Lee had a chance to be the shooting guard on the floor not named Kobe Bryant to be the hero. But the rookie could not convert a perfectly executed play off a perfectly thrown in-bounds pass from Hedo Turkoglu (22 points) with .6 seconds left, and the Lakers outscored the Magic 13-8 in OT.

After losing by 25 points in Game 1, the Magic lost "a real heartbreaker," said forward Rashard Lewis, whose 34 points were part of an Orlando offensive revival.

Although they shot a little better (41.8 percent) than in the opener, the biggest oops could describe how the Magic handled the ball all night. They finished with 20 turnovers, with Dwight Howard (17 points, 16 rebounds) committing seven by himself.

The Lakers converted them into 28 points, including picking off a bounce pass by J.J. Redick - intended for Howard - with the Magic down just 92-91.

Lakers guard Derek Fisher was fouled on the breakaway and made two free throws for a 94-91 lead the Lakers did not relinquish. * * *


(2)

ALLEY-OOPS: Magic squander opportunity to tie series, trail Lakers 0-2

by Mike Bianchi, Orlando Sentinel

* * *
here's a reason Kobe has played in more games (219 if you count the NBA regular season, playoffs and Olympics) than anybody over the last 18 months and, yet, he is still able to tirelessly score 40 points in Game 1.

There's a reason he hasn't missed a game in more than two years — and he missed that one only because he was suspended for a flagrant elbow.

There's a reason he has been able to continue playing despite sore hips, dislocated fingers, tendinitis in his knees, etc., etc.

Because Kobe refuses to take a day off.

Doctors told him he needed surgery to repair a broken pinkie before the season began. You know what Kobe did? He scoffed at the 12-week recovery period and declined surgery. He was going to miss any games because of silly pinkie.

If the Magic are to beat the Lakers, they must outwork, outwit and, most importantly, out want Kobe.

"I just want it so bad," Kobe says.

What about you, Dwight Howard?

What about you, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu?

What about you Jameer Nelson and Rafer Alston?

Does anybody want it as badly as Kobe does?


(3)

Magic Must Rally at Home after Game 2 OT Loss to Lakers

by George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel

LOS ANGELES - We've seen lots of frantic comebacks from these guys.

They were down 2 games to 1 in Philly and came back in the first round of the playoffs.

They were down 3-2 to the world champion Boston Celtics and came back, undaunted by Celtic tradition.

They were down after LeBron James hit an improbable 3-pointer at the buzzer in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, but maintained their composure to close out the Cavaliers in six games.

What now Magic?

What ya got?

Is there one more run left, or will you continue to sputter down the road, about to break down on the Pacific Coast Highway?

It's been a long, strange trip to Cali this week.

As bad as a 25-point blowout was in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Sunday's 101-96 heartbreak in overtime was worse. Forget the five-point differential in the box score. This was sosoclose. And sosodisheartening.

After playing like they were working up a sweat at the Y in the first quarter, the Magic were poised to win this thing Sunday.

They should have.

Twice it was there, then gone. * * *

Logic says that is it over. But the Magic aren't going away. They can match up with the Lakers physically. But can they match up with the Lakers emotionally?

"It's going to be a big event," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said of the return to Orlando. "We know there's going to be a lot of energy surrounding their team."

Will it be enough? * * *


(4)

Redick in Crunch Time While Jameer Sits?

by Michael White, Orlando Sentinel Magic BasketBlog

Just a quick thought here: I'd really prefer less J.J. Redick in crunch time. That TO and missed 3 killed the Magic. I would have greatly preferred Jameer Nelson in that spot. To me, this was a big blunder by SVG. * * *


(5)

Game 2 Instant Reaction

by Woody Wommack, Orlando Magic Daily (TrueHoop)

Well, what is there to say after a game like that. The Magic had a chance to steal Game 2 in Los Angeles, but just couldn't quite get it done.

As Courtney Lee's lay-up attempt bounced off the rim at the end of regulation, I just had a feeling that the Magic weren't going to be able to pull it out in overtime.

It was a great play, with great execution, but the shot just didn't fall and that's how it goes sometimes.

Unfortunately for the Magic, if they're going to win an NBA championship, shots like that have to go in.

In overtime the Magic fell behind and just didn't have enough time to come back.

You really have to give it up to the Lakers, they've been here before and they played like it down the stretch, making their last 14 free throw attempts.

You can't really blame this one on anyone, it was a great game and the Magic had the ball with a chance to win the game, and that's all you can really ask for. * * *


(6)

Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers 101, Orlando Magic 96

by Philip Rossman-Reich, The Curse of the Big Aristotle

Hedo Turkoglu lobbed the ball toward the rim, like he did two years ago in a regular season game against the Spurs. Rashard Lewis set the pick and Courtney Lee came off.

He caught the ball and tried to lay it off the backboard, only to see it fall off the front rim. Lee shook his head after missing his second potentially game-winning basket in Game Two.

Recovering from a horrid effort in Game One, Orlando had the right moves to get the franchise's first Finals victory but fell off the front rim.

The Magic failed to execute in the overtime period as Kobe Bryant slashed his way to the rim and caused havoc offensively. Bryant finished with 29 points to lead Los Angeles to a 101-96 win and a 2-0 series lead. * * *

The Magic attacked it a lot more and did not look as scared about going after the Lakers as they did in Game One. Orlando started to match Los Angeles' physicality. But the team did not do it enough of the game.

At times, the Magic still looked to pass and still struggled. The turnover numbers say it all as Los Angeles poked the ball away and still interrupted Orlando's offense.

Defensively things looked a lot better. Orlando did a good job keeping Bryant out of the lane — for the most part — and forced others to beat them. They did with Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol getting some good bounces and hitting their shots.

The Magic were much grittier and scrappier on defense. They won the rebounding battle 44-35 and gave up only four offensive rebounds. This was much improved from Game One and something Orlando should look to keep.

In the end, this game was a missed opportunity. The Magic played much better and should have won this game. Los Angeles continued to frustrate Orlando offensively, but the team still had a chance to win. I expect things to change greatly at Amway Arena. * * *


(7)

NBA Finals Game 2: Lakers 101 Magic 96 OT

by Mike from Illinois, Orlando Magic Blog

The Magic, despite a poor shooting first half and a litany of turnovers throughout the game, gave Los Angeles all they could handle as the Lakers escaped with the victory in overtime... [T]he Magic missed a brilliant chance to win the game in regulation at the buzzer, with Courtney Lee's running layup attempt off a Hedo Turkoglu inbounds pass with .6 seconds remaining was just a little strong.

Both teams started out bad, as they combined for a Finals-record low 30 points in the first quarter tied at 15 after one. The Magic never could get the lead in the second quarter as the Lakers went into the half with a 40-35 lead.

After the Magic closed within 40-37 to open the third, neither team had more than a three point lead as the Magic had their best quarter of the finals, scoring 30 points for a 65-63 advantage going into the fourth. Once again in the fourth, neither team had more than a three point lead.

The Magic's last lead came at 88-86 with 47 seconds remaining after a Turkoglu jumper, but a Pau Gasol layup tied it at 88. The Lakers had their own chance to win late, but Bryant's runner in the lane was blocked from behind by Turkoglu, which set up the final play of regulation for the Magic which came so close to being a game-winner.

The Magic's only lead of the overtime was 91-90, with the Lakers taking the lead for good 92-91 with 2:18 remaining, with their lead as much as 97-91 with 1:14 remaining. The Magic came within 99-96 with 26.2 seconds remaining, but free throws clinched the win for the Lakers. * * *


(8)

Just My Thoughts on This Game

Posted by "Lee for Three" to Third Quarter Collapse

1 - I haven't said this all post-season, but I'm saying it tonight. We really needed Jameer Nelson tonight. I said this before the playoffs started that the Nelson to Alston drop-off wouldn't hurt us until we got deep into the playoffs. Well it really showed up tonight. No one to run the point in the fourth quarter because Alston is garbage and is something like 0-7 on three pointers where there is no one withing 5 feet of him. Turnovers and sloppy play killed us down the stretch, and since I haven't said it before, I'll say it for the first time tonight: if we had Jameer at 100%, we win this game.

2 - Bouncing off of that last point — I have no idea why SVG was not playing Lee, Pietrus, Hedo, Lewis, Dwight in the fourth. This is THE PERFECT opponent to play that against. The Lakers are incredibly long and Lee has struggled to slow down taller opponents. If you aren't going to play Jameer in the 4th (which I understand b/c he's not 100%) then why don't you play Lee at the point. Go long to match the Lakers length and give Lee more than 7 freakin minutes in the first three and a half quarters!!! For the most part I've given SVG some slack but in my opinion not playing that lineup for 15-20 minutes tonight is inexcusable and a poor job coaching on his part.

3 - Both teams played much better defense tonight than they did in Game 1. I would find it hard to believe someone watched both games and didn't reach that conclusion. The Lakers did a much better job of contesting shots and disrupting passing lanes (although part of it was poor decision making by Orlando). Orlando's team D was a lot better, but Kobe just missed some shots that he made in Game 1. I say we keep single-teaming him, force him to take 18-20 footers and hope he misses enough.

This was a really tough loss to swallow. This game really could have gone either way. Turk hit a ridic shot to put us up two in regulation. We got a bad bounce where the deflection fell right into Gasol's lap to tie it. SVG drew up a good play at the end, but Lee couldn't finish. To me, the make or break play in OT was JJ missing that wide open three from up top when we were up 91-90. That goes back to Point 2 of why is he even in the game down the stretch, but that's a shot Redick should make.

Tough loss tonight, but we are in no way done. It's going to be incredibly difficult to take four out of five from LA, but I'm not throwing in the towel either.


(9)

Bandwagoners Jumping Off

Posted by "Adamosthegreek" to Magic Madness message board

Neither team took control of the game tonight, easily could've been 1-1 coming back home.

Need to protect home court. Only need one Finals win for this team to be the best team in franchise history.

Courtney really needed to finish that alley oop, oh well.
JJ shouldn't be getting much blame either.

No one is really to blame, s**t just didn't go well. Again, you need to have some luck on your side. Lakers had the luck tonight. * * *

The good news is a lot of the bandwagoners will be jumping off, so anyone looking for tickets to these next few will probably find them.


(10)

Los Angeles Lakers 101, Orlando Magic 96 (OT)

by Ben Q Rock, Third Quarter Collapse (SBN)

The Orlando Magic recovered from a slow start in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, but ultimately fell short in overtime by a 101-96 score. Rashard Lewis led all scorers with 34 points, and single-handedly kept Orlando in the game in the second period, scoring 18 of his team's 20 points to stake the Magic to a 5-point halftime deficit.

Hedo Turkoglu, too, came up big with 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. But the Magic made some costly, sloppy mistakes with the ball with the game — and let's be completely honest, the entire season — in the balance. To win the title, the Magic now have to win 4 out of 5 against a Lakers squad that has flustered its offense in these Finals.

Orlando had a chance to win in regulation after a clutch defensive play by Turkoglu, as he blocked Kobe Bryant's would-be game-winning offering from behind, then signaled for timeout.

Orlando had 0.6 seconds with which to work, and ultimately chose to ran a lob play, but not for the person one might expect. The Lakers, like everyone else, have seen footage of Dwight Howard's game-winning alley-oop flush against the San Antonio Spurs two seasons ago, which came on a lob pass from Turkoglu.

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy anticipated Pau Gasol's walling off the paint, denying Howard access to the rim, so he drew up the lob for rookie guard Courtney Lee. Turkoglu's pass was mostly on point, but Lee could not convert the layup, and for that he is sure to take a beating from the media in the coming days.

Pinning a loss on a player does the opponent a disservice by denying it agency in the game's outcome. The Lakers won this game every bit as much as Orlando lost it, but had Lee converted at the buzzer, it'd be his victory, and Van Gundy would look like a genius. But because the Magic went on to lose, Lee and Van Gundy are scapegoats for missing the shot and for playing a crunch-time backcourt of J.J. Redick and Rafer Alston in the NBA Finals, respectively.

Pardon me for ranting here, but our desire to boil entire games down to one play, to pin their outcomes on a single individual, is uncalled for. Trite. * * *


(11)

If only Rashard had gotten some help in the first half...

posted by "Mike from Illinois" to Third Quarter Collapse

If only Rashard had gotten some help in the first half...
He shot 8 of 12, including 4 of 6 on threes, for 20 points; the rest of the Magic combined to shoot 4 of 25 (16%!) in that first half.

Lewis, Turk, and Howard scored 73 of the 96 Magic points; that means the seven other Magic players who played barely averaged a little more than three points each.

D12, who played better defensively than he did in Game 1, is capable of doing so much better offensively; the seven turnovers by Dwight are especially troublesome.

Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom gave Kobe Bryant lots of help offensively, while Derek Fisher has been rock-steady at the point in the first two games.

Despite being down 2-0, the Magic should be encouraged that they came so close to winning Game 2 despite playing less than their best.

Playing in front of the home crowd should give the Magic a huge emotional boost the next three games.


(12)

It's Not Over Yet, But It's Getting There

by Zach McCann, Orlando Magic Daily (True Hoop)

Try to keep your head up, Magic fans. There's a precedent here.

Stan Van Gundy was an assistant coach in Miami in 2006 - "not doing a damn thing," as he puts it - when the Heat fell down 2-0 to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals. The Heat were even losing late in the third quarter of Game 3 before storming back to win the next four games and closing out the series in Game 6.

It's not impossible to come back from 2-0. It's just really, really difficult. But if the Magic are one thing it's resilient, and I'm not counting them out yet.

That said, the Magic had some problems in Sunday night's 101-96 overtime loss to the Lakers.

It's easy to pin this loss on Courtney Lee's missed lay-up, and that's what a lot of Magic fans are doing. But that's unfair. It would've been an incredible shot, and you can't fault someone for missing an incredible shot. You don't say "Come on, Tiger, how do you miss that 40-yard chip out of the bunker?"

Orlando had some bigger problems in Game 2.

The team committed 20 turnovers in an absolutely unsightly display of basketball. There wasn't a pattern with the turnovers, just overall careless play. They were on intercepted passes, offensive fouls, careless throws out of bounds and Dwight Howard holding the ball too low (a habit that is somehow not fixed at this point in his career). A bulk of the turnovers came in the first half, but the three most crucial mishaps were in overtime, helping the Lakers build a six-point, insurmountable lead. * * *


(13)

Finals — Game 2 Reaction

by Maxwell Efffort, The Puns Are Starting to Bore Me (Bloguin)

In a game where the Magic were very sloppy with the ball and the guards were nothing short of horrendous on the offensive end of the floor the Magic got the opportunity that all of their opponents have had this postseason. They had the ball in their hands with a chance to win the game.

Stan Van Gundy drew up a fantastic play and Courtney Lee just could not finish. I do not know if he saw Pau Gasol coming, if he was falling under the basket or there was so little time but the layup never seemed clean and it rolled off the rim. The Magic would have to play overtime.

The extra period saw more frustration as both Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis both had shots on back to back possesions roll around on the rim and bounce back out. JJ missed a wide open 3 and turned the ball over on an attempted pass to Dwight Howard. The Lakers on the other hand were able to execute their offense and that would be the game. * * *


(14)

The Magic Better Play Game 3 Like Their Lives Depend on a Win

by Michael White, Orlando Sentinel

* * *
I am sick of this. Sick of the Lakers fans, sick of the national media, and most of all sick of the Magic's inability to even pretend to resemble their better selves for four straight quarters with the NBA Finals riding on it.

Not unlike my man Jules Winnfield, this ain't the first time I've had a gun pointed at my face (If you haven't delivered pizzas in Pine Hills after midnight, you got nothing to say to me on this subject).

And that's where the Magic are at right now, metaphorically speaking. They are again staring down the barrel of a loaded weapon, playing with their season on the line.

Question is, can they be cool?

Of course they can. There have been far greater accomplishments in the history of this planet than a Dwight Howard-led team coming back from 0-2 to beat these L.A. Lakers.

Still, this team has once again upped the ante on postseason adversity.

Sunday's loss has set the bar to the sickest of levels. * * *


(15)

Magic Guards Not So Magical Against Lakers

by Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel Magic BasketBlog

The Magic's backcourt is taking steps back.

The point-guard situation is a mess, to put it kindly, with Jameer Nelson trying to get his feet under him and Rafer Alston trying to locate the basket.

The shooting guards are, well...there's a reason they are called shooting guards, right?

But here are the unsightly numbers for some of the them:

Alston, Nelson Courtney Lee and J.J. Redick are a combined 14-for-53 (26 percent) in the two games against the Lakers.

And to top it off, Lee missed a potential game-winner with .06 seconds left in Game 2. * * *


The Bottom Line:

1. Yes!!!!

2. Oh, no...

3. Ouch.

4. Sigh.

5. We're not dead yet...

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