NBA Finals: Game 4 Live Blog
The Lakers put the Magic in a Choke-hold.
Big game tonight, SLAMfam. Game 4s are pendulum games. Either L.A. takes a decisive 3-1 lead, or Orlando ties up the series and takes an incredible amount of momentum into Game 5.
Readers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers have been asking me what I think is gonna go down tonight and I keep going back to two things I harped on immediately after Game 3. 1.) Orlando shot, like, 99.9% from the floor in Game 3 and only won because The Closer failed to closeout the game like he (Kobe) usually does. When you shoot 63%, you should probably win easy. Orlando will fall back to earth tonight. They’d do well to even shoot 55%, which, to be honest, is a very accurate night under normal circumstances. Which gets me to 2) L.A. needs to and will get Pau the ball more. Orlando is helpless against Gasol and, to a lesser extent, an aggressive Lamar Odom. I can’t imagine that L.A. will ignore this advantage all series long.
One other thing. We’re gonna do another edition of The Commish Comments. Expect it Friday afternoon. This time, though, I will cull comments/questions/opinions and tangents from this liveblog comment thread. So be provocative, be smart, be funny and be thoughtful.
I’ll be headed over to Amway in an hour or so to catch the coaches’ pregame pressers and catch the vibe of the lockerrooms. I’ll check-in here at tip-off. Until then, feel free to start the discussion…
Sorry guys. Had some trouble with the connection. Before I move onto first quarter action, just wanted to update folks on the “Shard/Hedo defensive assignment” question. Iasked SVG why he assigns Shard to the bigger player and he said, simply, that Shard is a better low post defender, that Hedo feels more comfortable defending on the perimeter. He said he could tell this almost as soon as he became coach last season. So, there you have it. Shard is on Gasol and Odom because, of the two, he’s better equipped.
After four minutes, with Orlando up 7-6, this much is clear: Kobe has little interest in staying with Lee on the perimeter, roaming instead…and Kobe will be shooting a lot again. Meanwhile, Dwight is active with six boards and two fouls on Drew.
This Orlando crowd is locked in. I think they are fueled by the same disrespect-complex that is motivating their squad. It’s loud in here. Not smart loud, like Boston or Chicago, but bottle-blonde, “go blue-white” loud. But loud nonetheless. It’s easy to see why role players thrive at home and struggle in more hostile environs.
Right this moment, there’s a group of geriatric WASPs, at midcourt, dancing to “Hot In Herr.” That’s why I diss Orlando as souless. That wouldn’t go down in Philly.
When Hedo learned of Kareem’s “Dwight’s O-game is predictable” comment, he responded “let’s see you play him with one man.” And that’d be a nice snarky “touche” comment, if Dwight wasn’t so horrible coming out of double teams…like the one that just happened.
Realizing that D12 isn’t the smartest defender, but Gasol is one of the more crafty scorers, why not pound it to Gasol when Dwight is checking him? Instead, Dwight is getting the night off and sending the Lakers bigs to the bench. Maybe Zo is right and Phil isn’t actually coaching on the sidelines.
My man Bomani Jones just tweeted: “i’m starting to wonder if bynum fouls on purpose so he can go sit down.”
Ariza wasn’t slamming the ball in disgust. At least it’s not clear. He could have been trying to bounce the ball in the basket. Players (and fans) try that all the time. But, seeing as how easy it is to misconstrue that action, why be a complete mushroom-head and slam the ball on the court?
Orlando shooting 50%, L.A. shooting 33%. Orlando 12 boards. L.A. 5 boards. But Orlando only up 3. Hmmmm
Magic can do whatever they want in the pain for rest of the quarter now that Gasol, Bynum and Odom are all on the bench with two fouls.
Kobe may be jacking, but he’s keeping L.A. in it. Strategic-jacking.
Redick shouldn’t be on the court during the Finals. It’s like will.I.am being in an Rap Armageddon battle.
end of 1st. Magic up 24-20. Don’t see a trend, yet. Anyone else spot something notable?
Folks, unfortunately all of my 2nd Quarter thoughts were lost in a technical error. I’ll say this about the 2nd Quarter. Orlando is starting to look a lot like they did in CLeveland where it seems that they just have way more shot-makers than their opponent.
L.A. only shot 33% for the first half. I’ll be shocked if that continues. Orlando’s defense can be pretty stellar in bursts, but L.A. is a smart offensive team. And Bynum and Odom played a combined 14 minutes due to foul trouble. That SHOULD change.
I’ll be interested to see if Orlando can blow open a big lead to start the third (they are capable). Or, there’s a great possibility L.A. quickly gets the lead under 4 points and makes it a new game.
At any rate, Orlando 49, L.A. 37.
END OF 1st HALF
Here’s a question for you all to discuss, is Pau Gasol a better basketball PLAYER than Dwight. I say yes.
Let’s see if Bynum can stay on the floor for more than 150 seconds. And let’s see if L.A. can get D12 in foul trouble.
I think Andrew Bynum might be his generation’s Nick Anderson. I think these playoffs are scarring him.
Ariza needs to get back to that steal for the dunk. L.A. within 10, 51-41.
Imagine if Hedo were explosive. That shot he just dropped in was so friggin crafty.
Ariza for three. L.A. has cut the Magic lead to 5, 54-49. Ariza has seven points and a steal in the first four minutes. This is NOT want the Magic wanted, obviously. Bottle-blonde crowd is silent.
Ariza has been absolutely HUGE. He’s pulling a Kobe. Laers within one, 54-53
What did I tell you about the start of the 3rd? L.A. takes the lead on two Bynum free throws, 55-54. More importantly, Bynum has managed to stay on the floor for more than six minutes. This is a first. Howard has been silent.
The game has settled into a boxing match, now. Hedo having 4 fouls is big.
Reddick with the trey. SVG must like the dude. Orlando’s bottle-blonde crowd loves him.
Howard picks up his third foul on a loose ball. Kobe responds like a jaded girlfriend wrestling her way out of an abusive boyfriend’s arms.
Kobe with a big shot at the end of the quarter. Lakers take a 67-63 lead into the 4th quarter. Odom (with his two threes) and Ariza (with his super-active start) were big in the 3rd, as was Hedo being on the bench.
Hedo might have the dopest up-fake in the league. Either him, Kobe, Paul Pierce or Scalabrine.
Did you see Ariza chase down Pietrus and change that gimme-layup.
Kobe’s up-fake is so ill that he has Pietrus deathly afraid to do anything OTHER than stay on his feet. Because of that he just dropped a dagger-three on him. Lakers 75-70
Pietrus with the And1 to tie it up at 75-75 and chance to take the lead on his free throw.
Kobe can’t play fast break defense anymore. He’s not capable. Pietrus blew by him. Look at how Ariza defends a charging defender. That’s how Kobe used to be, but much better. Kobe used to devour dudes.
Dwight Howard doesn’t seem to show any regard or discretion when it comes to blocking shots. Hence that dumb goaltend.
Kobe just pointed for Ariza to dump it down to Pau. Why? ‘Cause after three straight posessions of going hard to the basket, the old man needed a rest.
It’s tied up 79-79. Magic not shooting free throws well.
L.A. shooting less than 40%. Magic outrebounding them. But game is close because Orlando has 14 turnovers to L.A.’s 6. Magic have to take care of the ball.
Huge three by Ariza to tie it up at 82.
Bad misses by Dwight. I at least expected one of two.
L.A. down 3, 87-84, with the ball and 11 seconds. For the first time in nine years, I’m not confident Kobe will come through.
Uncle Fish with the CLUTCH pull-up three. But Orlando has two assassins. Lakers fans are peeing pants right now. Magic crowd has an eerily confident buzz.
Great inbound defense by the Lakers on the last play. Didn’t let Shard get it or let Hedo get it on the pass-back after the inbound. Forced pietrus into an uncharacteristic shot. But the really great defensive possession was on the first failed inbound, when Shard curled to the baseline for that SAME shot he hits at the end of the game all the time in these playoffs, except Ariza shadowed Hedo’s right shoulder and took the pass away.
We go to overtime, 87-87.
Tied up 91-91. Nobody is taking control. I’ll tell you this, though. Kobe needs this two day rest he has coming up.
SVG refuses to play Skip. That will be a major question in the postgame pressers.
You know how continues to botch splitting that double team? Here’s a quip from my girl Jemele Hill: “Message to Phil: That split-the-double-team-pick-n-roll doesn’t work” It doesn’t. If it were DWade or CP3 splitting the double team, maybe. But not Kobe and not with Dwight being the big man getting split.
Uncle Fish with the HUGE 3 again!
Pau with open court dunk after the rebound deflection. Lakers up 96-91 with only 21 left. But with Magic three point shooting, they’re never out of it.
Also, Kobe’s pass to Fish was MJesque.
Pau with the And1 dunk. Game over. Lakers take that decisive 3-1 lead.
Discuss amongst yourselves. I will have a few thoughts during/after the press conference.
And keep commenting, so I have a lot of good stuff to work with for the weekend’s Commish Comments.