Good news for the Orlando Magic: Winning last night’s Game 3 puts you right back in the NBA Finals, and with two more home games in a row, in position to stretch this thing to six or seven games and pull off an upset. Bad news: You played about as flawless a game as possible (at least offensively) and still just barely got the W … Orlando came out scorching in the first quarter, hitting like 75 percent of their shots, but were still mostly playing from behind due to Kobe Bryant single-handedly destroying their defense. Kobe scored 17 points during a five-minute stretch, giving Mickael Pietrus a slew of pull-ups, post-ups, and baiting him into a four-point play at the end of the quarter … On the other side, Rafer Alston finally woke up and played like a starter. “He’s playing like ‘Skip to my Lou’,” Mark Jackson said. Skip scored 11 of his 20 points in the first quarter, and was 8-of-12 from the field with one three. How frustrating is it for Orlando to realize that if they had gotten anything out of Rafer in Game 2, they probably would’ve won? Instead, he decided to pout about the whole Jameer Nelson thing and they ended up trying to climb out of an 0-2 hole. Stan Van Gundy got it right last night, though, playing Jameer about 10 minutes off the bench while Rafer (36 mins) did the heavy lifting … And what’s Skip doing over there that has him so ripped? Dude was built like Hot Sauce about a year ago, now he’s a professional arm-wrestler. Between Rafer, Dwight Howard (21 pts, 14 rebs), J.J. Redick and Pietrus, either the Magic have the greatest strength and conditioning crew in the League, or somebody’s doing that Roger Clemens … Orlando built a five-point lead at halftime, and led by six after three, but Lamar Odom (11 pts) sparked an L.A. rally to tie it up with about 2:30 remaining in the fourth. Pietrus (18 pts, 3 stls) regained the lead with a tip dunk, Skip split a pair of free throws, then Rashard Lewis hit a long two-pointer to put Orlando up three with one minute left. Kobe (31 pts, 8 asts, 5-10 FT) got himself a superstar call and went to the line, but bricked the first freebie before making the second. Odom forced Lewis into a turnover at the other end, but on the ensuing crucial Lakers possession, Dwight poked the ball away from Kobe and Pietrus came up with the steal. His two free throws put Orlando up four with 28 seconds left, and after the Lakers missed four threes in a row, it was basically over … There was a little delay when the Lakers were down two and fouled with 0.2 seconds left, only the Magic’s arena operators thought the game was over and released the confetti, and fans threw stuff on the court. So while the game wasn’t over, you could see Rafer walking around with a little paper noise-maker. Hedo Turkoglu gave him a look like, “Dude, you’re a clown.” Rashard (21 pts, 5 rebs, 5 asts) calmly hit both free throws to end any sort of threat … During a discussion about Dwight Howard’s favorite movies (Menace II Society, Friday, Finding Nemo), Jeff Van Gundy actually asked Mark Jackson, “What is Friday, by the way?” As jaws across America hit the floor, Jackson fell silent for a minute before answering. That’s like asking Mike Breen, “What is Caddyshack, by the way?” JVG kind of redeemed himself by rightfully clowning Brian Shaw for that 1987 summer suit he was wearing on the bench, but still … Granted, there weren’t a lot of rebounds to be had — Orlando shot 62% for the game, while L.A. hit 51% from the field — but how does Pau Gasol only come up with three boards? … As much as the Lakers have been getting some crazy calls going their way throughout the series, the worst referee screw-up so far came when Pietrus got away with a blatant double-dribble in the second quarter. Pietrus had a 1-on-1 fast break against Jordan Farmar, and when Farmar swiped at the ball, Pietrus clearly picked up his right-hand dribble and bounced it again with his left hand going in for a dunk. No whistle. And this happened like two feet in front of Joey Crawford! Farmar’s head almost exploded when Crawford missed the call … When Kobe was sitting on the bench actually holding a dry-erase board and telling Gasol (23 pts) what to do when he was working an iso, what are the chances Gasol was nodding his head but thinking STFU thoughts? … And did you notice after the play where Pietrus got the steal in the final 30 seconds and Gasol dove to the floor, how Kobe basically stood right next to him and never once made a move to help him up? Gasol just laid there until Odom finally came over to help … All of the Lakers walked off the floor without shaking hands. Apparently that’s only an end-of-series thing … Does anyone in the League make more “bad” shots than Hedo? Off the top of our heads, the Top 5 would be Turkoglu, Vince Carter, D-Wade, Antawn Jamison and Ben Gordon. That would be an interesting game of H-O-R-S-E or G-E-I-C-O or whatever they’re gonna call it at All-Star Weekend … We’re out like a sweep …
Smack / Jun 10, 2009 / 4:33 am
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