NBA Finals: Game 5 Live Blog
by Ben Osborne
Here we are: the first potential last game of the NBA season.
Speaking on this being the last game of the season at Amway Arena, a confident Dwight Howard said, “We talked about going out and giving the fans something to look forward to when we travel back to L.A. We want to give the fans a good show. It’s the last home game, and we can’t wait.”
On the other side, Kobe Bryant, on the eve of his first potential Finals-clinching game as his team’s unrivaled leader, said, “We’ve got guys who are focused, hungry, know what we want to do and know what our identity is. We’re ready to go.”
Like I wrote yesterday, I stubbornly think the Magic will give their fans one last good show and the Lakers will be forced to close this out Tuesday…but who knows? That’s why they play the games!
I’m going to rest my finger tips as I plan to get a lot of words up tonight. In the meantime, those of you who are counting the minutes to tip off should feel free to comment away.
See you from the arena…
Here I am. Got through some rough traffic in time for a pretty complete pregame experience.
One thing I forgot to recap earlier is that I overheard a kid in a Magic t-shirt, maybe 7 years old, get asked who is favorite player is. “Turkey,” he said. That really cracked me up. “He sure was a turkey at the line the other night,” I didn’t add.
Also, what will he call him if/when he goes elsewhere?
Thought I’d also be putting in links to the Shaq-to-the-Cavs rumors that heated up earlier today, but they seem to have cooled off. As I texted to Lang, who first told me the rumors were going around, the League would want no part of the Finals being upstaged by a trade of that magnitude, so I think those talks could be very real…I just don’t think anything would be announced til at least three or four days after the season ended.
Made the Laker locker room my first stop. Watch/listen as Phil Jax gets interviewed by David Aldridge. Phil praises Kobe’s role as a “facilitator” in the Playoffs and this series in particular. Hey, the stats don’t lie: Kobe has 32 assists through four games. No one else on the Lakers even has 10 assists, total, this series (Pau is second with 8, aka 2 apg).
Then I bump into longtime SLAM favorite Spero Dedes, one-time SLAM intern and now longtime radio voice of the Lakers. “They look pretty locked in,” he tells me. “And when they look like that it’s usually a W.” It’s not quite enough to change my prediction, but Spero does speak knowingly.
He must get some access regular media folk don’t, cause I can’t see anyone “locked in”; mainly cause I can’t see anyone. Lamar and Shannon Brown entertain a few questions from reporters, but that’s it for visible players.
Weird to think that the next time I’m in this locker room it could be CHAOS.
Across the court, in the Magic locker room, Dwight is getting dressed, quoting 300 while he’s at it. “This is for Sparta” he yells. As Tony Battie says, “That’s just Dwight being Dwight. Now he’ll go out and get you 20 and 20.”
When I go back out to the court Im amazed to see that at least half the fans inside watching the teams shoot around are Laker fans. As SLAM L.A.-based photog Atiba Jefferson (who flew in today to shoot the game) told me, there were a lot of Laker fans on his plane.
Then I walk the concourse a bit and notice something that will make Lang wish he was here: they have Starbucks booths in the arena.
The Magic are 2.5-point favorites for the game. Scoff, but these Vegas cats know what they’re talking about. Especially when taking into account recent Game 5s where home team was down 3-1: The Pacers beat the Lakers in 2000 facing that scenario, and the Lakers beat the Celtics just last season.
In a related story, tonight’s officials are Danny Crawford, Joe DeRosa and Ken Mauer.
The 7-year-old girl sings the national anthem again. I thought her luck ran out Thursday?
Magic fans gamely making noise. Seems like another good atmosphere. It might get real ugly in here if Magic get down big, but as long as they are playing well I expect these fans to be very into it.
It is, yet again, quite steamy in here. Which is appropriate as this is one steamy city.
That crazy Stan Van Gundy started Jameer Nelson!
Courtney Lee starts things off for Magic. Then stops Kobe on the drive. Pau follows. 2-2.
Lew for 2. 4-2, Orlando.
Kobe scores, followed by Dwight with a powerful offensive rebound, then hitting a cutting Lewis for the and-1. 7-4, Magic.
Fish and Turkey exchange buckets.
Kobe angry at a non-call. Me angry that Lewis didn’t convert that sweet pass from Skip off the Dwight block.
Lee lay-up. Skip is really flashing the passing style tonight (should’ve shot the open J, though).
A couple more Orlando lay-ups, Kobe hurt?! Phil forced to call a timeout, down 15-6.
Looked like his finger, which would have made sense, but he’s bending over. Maybe just serious pain.
Ironically, as I’ve written earlier this week, you guys watching on TV will probably know what’s up with him before I know because I can’t see a TV from my seat.
People behind me are already talking about how a Magic series victory would be tainted if Kobe is out for the series.
Whatever it is, KB is back in the game. And demanding the ball.
Nice putback and-1 by Bynum.
Magic are getting a lot of easy shots. Hedo lay-up makes it 17-8.
Pau scores but then after misses each way a Lee lay-up pushes it to 19-10. Almost all lay-ups.
The team that loves 3s hasn’t even made one yet.
But Kobe has: 19-15, Orlando.
With Magic up, 23-19, Pietrus comes in for Hedo, putting Pietrus and Lee in game at same time.
Official TO with 2:21 left in 1st. Still no made 3s for the Magic. Kobe, despite the finger or whatever it was incident, is off to another pretty hot start (3-5, 7 points). Lee and Alston have 6 each for the hosts.
Jameer Nelson checks in for Rafer. A fair number of fans boo.
Jordan Farmar replaces Fisher.
Kobe at the line: makes both to cut Magic lead to 25-24.
Pietrus travels his way to a successful runner. 27-24.
Kobe makes two more FTs, then Dwight makes his first trip to the line: Miss (bad)-Make. He’s also just 1-4 from the field.
Magic still up, though. 28-26 after 1. Magic made no triples.
Lakers shot just 36 percent to Magic’s 48.
Definitely has makings of another close game.
The Magic’s in-game entertainment has not risen to Finals level.
Dwight starts off the 2nd with his usual right hook. Bynum, who has just 1 foul and got up 9(!!) shots in the 1st quarter, totally should have made a better effort to block it, given how many times he’s seen that exact move over the last 10 days.
Dwight is heating up. Gets a nice and-1 over Bynum. Misses the FT though. 34-28, Magic.
Bynum is a shot-taking machine right now. He took 22 shots over the first four games. He’s taken half that many in 11 minutes tonight.
Lamar with a nifty and-1 to cut lead to 34-30 (pending free throw). Time out on the floor.
I could use a celeb cam. Too bad the video board is dedicated to selling 2009-10 Magic season tickets. Can’t these people enjoy this season first?
Pietrus scores to make it 36-31. Kobe answers.
Jameer hits jumper. Lamar answers, three-pointer version. BTW, Magic still have no 3s.
Pretty surprised Kobe didn’t get call after he drove on Lewis. Did look like pretty nice D by Shard, though.
Fish 3. 40-39, Magic. Timeout, Magic.
Ariza just got pushed by Ewing after trailing Hedo to the Magic bench. Nothing wrong with some bad blood in a potential deciding game.
Ariza for 3 gives the Lakers the lead. Kobe follows with a sick floater. 44-40, L.A. And SVG calls another timeout.
Sorry to belabor the point, but the masters of the 3 have none, while the Lakers are 4-7 on them thus far.
Laker fans in my vicinity are talking a lot of shit right now.
Ariza again. And Fisher on a drive. The Magic just called their third timeout in about 3 minutes. 49-40, Lakers.
“Let’s Go Magic!” chants rise gamely from the upper deck. Interestingly, most of the Laker fans are in the expensive seats.
It would really help their cause if one if Hedo or Rashard got going.
Nice move by Lamar. Lakers look the best they’ve looked since Game 1.
Ariza is balling. I think I read something about him on the web earlier today.
Perhaps the Magic are not as emotionally mature as the aforementioned 2000 Pacers or 2008 Lakers.
Finally! Lew his a 3. Lakers call a 20-second timeout. 54-46, L.A., with 1:38 left in the half.
Offensive foul on Dwight. He’s done until the second half.
Offensive foul on Lamar. He’s done until the second half.
Kobe misses a bad shot, Magic hold for final shot of half. Yuck.
Nothing doing. Magic shoot 1-9 on 3s, head into the locker room down 56-46. Maybe this isn’t going 6, after all.
See you in a few.
Halftime features a new pic on homepage (who else could we go with?), me finding some water to drink (not easy; they have had shortages in the media area every game here), and me overhearing the NBA Entertainment folks strategizing their “celebration” coverage.
Back to live action…
Pretty sloppy start to second half. Kobe seems to have answers to every Magic threat thus far.
After an adventurous first half, Bynum is back in his accustomed spot: foul trouble.
Timeout on floor with 6:38 left in 3rd quarter. 64-53, Lakers.
DFish Hacks-a-Dwight. On the floor. Then Hedo is fouled. Magic in the bonus. For second game in a row the Magic are getting the fouls-called benefit (16-11 for the game at the moment).
Kobe makes a wild double-pump-across-the-lane-off-the-glass shot. 66-55, Lakers.
Dwight just got his fifth foul. No, conveniently switched to Hedo. Still, Dwight has four and his team is now down 16 (71-55).
Hedo hits a two, Phil calls T.O., and an NFL-length TV delay commences. ESPN/ABC probably thinking about all the ads they won’t be able to run Tuesday and Thursday.
Pau scores out of T.O. to restore 16-point lead.
Magic are 2-13 on 3 pointers. And turning the ball over.
Magic backcourt is now Jameer and JJ Redick. Yuck.
And Redick is talking back to a taunting Laker fan. Give me a break.
The Magic just look so bad right now. Lakers doing their part and deserve the lead, but my hopes/predictions of a good game involved the Magic showing up.
Redick to Gortat!
Answered by Farmar.
Jameer misses a long prayer at the quarter buzzer. 76-61, Lakers. Unless something wild happens we’re about to begin the last 12 minutes of the NBA season.
Remember how well the Magic shot last Tuesday night? That feels like a long time ago.
Magic fans giving one (last?) standing O.
Can they at least make an NBA-style 4th quarter run? Kobe is in the game to squash such notions.
Pau beats shotclock with fadeaway.
Redick hits a 3. 78-64, Lakers.
Jameer hits a 3 as well.
Kobe gets one, too, forcing a Magic T.O. 83-67, Lakers.
Magic Johnson is about eight feet above me, shouting something about—or at—Lil Wayne. He’s begging someone to get Weezy to “turn around.” This is awkward.
Lakers playing hard, and effectively, at both ends. They know it’s coming.
And a bunch of fans start heading for the exits. This could be a very friendly crowd for the Lake Show by the time the final buzzer goes off.
Rafer is back.
“Luuuuuuuuuuu…” That’s not Magic fans “Boooooooo”-ing; it’s Laker fans saluting Luke Walton.
Lew hits two straight 3s, but he is still just 5-15 from the field for the night. Meanwhile, Dwight has all of 2 points in the second half.
93-79, Lakers, with 3:30 left.
Kobe is trying to teach Redick how to play better basketball.
With lead at 11 and the Magic in possession, Lewis drives the lane and gets stuffed—badly—by Pau.
Timeout with 1:12 left and now fans are really streaming out.
The cops and NBA Entertainment people are now ringing the court, preparing to block it off as soon as things end. It’s a long way from how people celebrated in the old days.
Thunderstix are descending from the upper deck. In anger, I think.
Wow, the Laker fans are making a lot of noise.
Uh, guess it won’t be 6. Well done, Lakers.
Dwight put up absolutely no resistance to any of this tonight.
Kobe’s on a major hugging kick.
I’m gonna shut down for a minute and try to get Lang a champagne cork.
I’ll try and get back on later with some more thoughts.
Congrats to the Lakers and their followers on SLAMonline. Enjoy your commenting.
I must be sad that the season is over. Despite my body calling to get back to the hotel and get a few hours of sleep before my early flight back to NJ, I’ve been lingering, taking in the sights and sounds of a series close out. I’ve been to a lot of Finals games over the years, but this is my first clincher since the Lakers won at New Jersey in ’02.
Here’s the notes I took since the game ended; it’s free live blogging tacked onto a free blog. Aren’t you guys lucky?
Stu Scott gets booed when he’s introduced to announce the Lakers as the champs and do the interviews on the court.
Can’t enphasize enough how many Laker fans there are here. Definitely a couple thousand.
Ooh, phil’s got a X hat, and it ain’t for Malcolm. Pretty gangster.
Lamar gets stopped by a few folks on his way off the court. “I gotta run,” he tells them. “It’s about to pop off in there.”
Magic locker room pretty mellow, media-wise (probably cause everyone is waiting to get into the Lakers’).
Most Orlando media members are chasing the “point guard controversy” story, though I don’t hear any players bite.
Crazy line to get into Laker locker room lets me dip into the press conference room.
Stan Van Gundy goes first, reasonably looking to give more credit to the Lakers than any discredit to his Magic. Lot of praise for Phil as well: “He’s won 51 Playoff series. Open your record books. There aren’t 2o coaches that have won 50 Playoff games.”
With a Lakers Wheaties box and championship hats already on the stage, Phil comes in to face the media. Championship tee under his suit, he looks rumpled but satisfied.
Says the Rocket series made them a team.
“Having won 10 championships is a remarkable accomplishment,” he says humbly. I kid, but then I’ll add something that makes it even more impressive: without ever even being taken to a 7th game in any of those 10 series!
Kobe is next, wearing a huge grin. He’s asked how this title is different than the first three?
“I don’t have to hear that idiotic…stuff anymore.”
With Kobe commanding a lot of the media’s attention while other writers are filing theit game stories, I get into the Laker locker room. The smell is crazy. Sweat, champagne, media folks.
DJ Mbenga, of all people, has got the trophy in his paws.
On my way out, I grab Lang a cork.