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Wednesday, June 10th, 2009 at 10:32 am  |  46 responses

Magic Make History, And Barely Win?

by Ryne Nelson

Many things say this is still a series. For one, the Magic are down just 2-1 with two more to play at home. Orlando could easily have won Game 2 in L.A. were it not for a questionable no-call at the end of regulation. Clearly, the Magic showed heart in Game 3, standing strong enough to secure its first Finals victory in franchise history.

But with good news comes the bad. The Magic shot 62.5 percent overall (75 percent in the first half) and 70 percent on two-point field goals. Kobe missed five free throws.

And the home team barely won! Listen to how Rafer Alston interpreted it:

Alston said that the Magic had a close enough call despite their hot shooting, meaning they needed to play better defense.

“The bad thing is we shot 62 and a half percent and almost lost the game, so we’ve got to find a way to defend these guys….stop fouling Kobe.”

The Magic won’t set another NBA Finals shooting record this series. So the question is: Can they beat the Lakers again when they shoot like mere mortals?

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  • Orlando Green

    Answer: NO

    GO Lakers!

    But can you please stop leaving RL open for threes.

  • Orlando Green

    Answer: NO

    GO LAKERS!!!

    But can you please stop leaving RL open for so many 3s.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/fear/ Freedom Fries

    Odds are good that Odom won’t have monster games every night, even when the Magic’s numbers go down. They need a durable solution at the point (more faith in Rafer?), avoid giving KB the easy “pro-fouls” and get balanced scoring from the rest of the team. Bring on some good ole game 7 drama.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/fear/ Freedom Fries

    I may be alone, but I’m still shocked that KB cannot consistently find open guys when he’s being triple teamed AND forcing shots (for no reason). MJ may have started off that way, but he got on board with understanding the importance of the whole team – and never forgot it. I wish KB could aspire to true greatness and not just settle for scoring greatness.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    As long as Bynum plays no role and Pau sticks to getting three rebounds a game, the Magic will be fine.

  • http://www.twitter.com/mansonovic Mansonovic

    Sorry, Ryne, but the last time I checked, “barely won” still meant “won”. And the Magic still have a shot at this. You say they can’t shoot at that clip again. Can’t they? I certainly kept waiting for them to stop making 3s at the rate they did against the Cavs, and it never happened. Also, I seem to recall the Heat doing a pretty good job of winning a championship from 0-2 down. I just think there is far too much negativity around the Magic’s chances.

  • http://sjkldf.com Jukai

    Freedom Fries: MJ’s rookie year assist average is .1 assist off of Kobe’s career high. So, I disagree. Just saying.

  • http://sjkldf.com Jukai

    Er, I disagree about Jordan starting off that way.

  • WhaHuh

    Odom has been doninant this series he needs to be on the floor with Kobe more often. He missed the 1s and 3rd quarters last night. Even if that means playing him at the 3 he needs to play

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Mansonovic: The Magic won’t shoot under 30 percent again like they did in Game 1. The Magic didn’t shoot well from the three (5-14), so I could totally see this not even being close if they hit a couple more from range. That said, you have to win more convincingly when you’re shooting that well, and it begins with better defense. The Magic haven’t held L.A. to double-digits yet. Their defense is not going to cut it and their offense might be too inconsistent to offset the weakness on the other end.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/fear/ Freedom Fries

    Jukai, I’m not talking about stats. I’m talking about really getting on board once and for all with the acceptance of a team mentality. I hope you’re not so young that you missed Jordan before and after he decided to listen to Phil (and reality) in not begrudgingly passing the ball to the likes of paxon et al. but actually *getting* why it made sense. Kobe is a great scorer, an amazing scorer, it just really mystifies me that he’s grown in age, experience and strength but somehow lacks whatever it is (maturity, humility, I dunno I’m not his shrink) to be a great *player* “non-scorer” nite in and nite out. He has spurts where he remembers. Then gets hacked and loses the ball on one play and decides for the next three that it’s him against the world. For me the bottom line is he’s too good to play like a pissed off little punk everyone now and then – there’s no need for it and it moves him and his team farther away from what should be a persistent goal – that the team win, not KB show up some weak defender…

  • http://www.twitter.com/mansonovic Mansonovic

    Ryne, I didn’t word that part particularly well. What I meant was that, during the Cavs series, before each game, I kept thinking to myself “they can’t possibly shoot the 3 so well again, surely”. Of course, they proved me wrong in every single game.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sesa-Opas/738856357 Sesa

    The Lakers done their part and so does the Magic. Now let’s see which Home team loses first

  • http://sjkldf.com Jukai

    Freedom Fries: Are you talking about finding the open man when you’re double teamed or kicking the ball around and creating a sort of ‘team tempo’ where everyone can get involved? Jordan could ALWAYS pass out of the double team, he averaged eight assists while keeping his 30-something points, for crying out loud.
    Yet, you’re right, Jordan wasn’t an amazing “teammate” until Phil Jackson, I get what you’re saying. I think it’s just a mentality that one can have. Kobe can be “Kobe the distributer” or “Kobe the scorer.” He really struggles with a middle ground. If he’s kicking the ball around, getting teammates involved, he usually isn’t moving off the ball or spacing the floor to help carry the scoring load. When he’s scoring, it’s him and the basket and nothing else. It’s always been an odd problem with Kobe.

  • http://sjkldf.com Jukai

    Now, as I feel I have to do (all the Kobe-loyalists don’t come to SLAM when the Lakers lose a game and only come back when they win a game) I’ll PARTIALLY defend Kobe on this one.
    I think the problem is, when Kobe wants to downright take over, he abandons the triangle. He sort of has to. When the offense isn’t run the way Phil Jackson coached it to be, 90% of the players on the Lakers have NO IDEA WHAT TO DO. They stand aroud, camp in one spot and wait for Kobe to kick it to them. No spreading the floor, no cutting or work picks. Sometimes you’ll see Gasol or Odom set a high screen but then they wont move anywhere near where it would be effective to score. I’m sure it’s partially because they know Kobe wont pass the damn rock, but the whole “let’s stop and stare at Kobe” can really hurt the team if Kobe’s shot isn’t on (it’s not 2005, when you knew if Kobe asked for the ball, he was going to drop 25 in a quarter)

  • http://Nicekicks.com MeloMan22

    obviously written by a Laker fan.

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/fear/ Freedom Fries

    Exactly – an odd problem which defies all reason

  • vtrobot

    Kobe’s havin’ fun! Pietrus is having a very good Playoffs.

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    I’m one of those kobe supporters and even I can’t defend his play last night

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    But I still agree with the story this was the absolute best the magic could play and it took the best player in the game playing like a rookie in the 4th for them to win by 4. I don’t think the lakers are worried nor should they be.

  • Statik

    Give Orlando their props, they also shot horribly in game 2 and BARELY LOST…sometimes logic and reason are both defied by what actually happens in a game whether the stats are great or not, and obviously this series shows why we should watch the game and leave stats in their place

  • Mooch

    statik nailed it. Orlando did what they had to win last night, which was shooting the lights out. they should have won game 2, but Lakers did a few more things. myopic to look at series as a whole through prism of one game

  • ABIMATOR

    These series are not over!!!
    I can’t wait 4 game 4!
    Go Pietrus Go!!!

  • max

    @Bryan if you mean “the best they can play offensively” I agree with you, but as they didnt play defense the way they are capable of playing, I wouldn’t say that they played the best they possibly could.
    And co-sign statik

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    With my man Skip playing like a madman, yes, the Magic CAN pull this off.

  • Jackie Moon

    Still would rather be the Lakers up 2-1, than down 1-2. And the Chicago Bulls never swept an opponent in the Finals. But is this the beginning of something big for the Magic? Only hindsight can tell you that. You can feel all you want that this means the Magic will change the tide, or you can feel that this is just a bump in the road on the way to a Lakers title. Both opinions are valid. Right now. And oh yeah, both teams played hard.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    All I know about this series, is that I miss Charles Oakley.

  • D

    Here is your unquestionable no call.

    http://estaticos03.marca.com/albumes/2009/06/08/gasol_howard_2/1244438352_extras_albumes_0.jpg

    Gasol hit the rim after Courtney Lee practically threw it off the shot clock. They even started the shot clock late to give him more time. NBA wants this series to go to 7 because it equals more revenue.

  • JoeMaMa

    Cosign Teddy on Alston’s play. If he can keep owning Fisher, and Gasol gets bottled up just A LITTLE, then it’s the Magic’s series.
    Kobe can’t/won’t win by himself.

  • Joseph

    The Magic shot a record 62% from the field.

    They were at home.

    They had a red-hot Skip to My Lou (which is not guaranteed).

    Lakers in 5, this one’s in the bag.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Mmmm… I think people are forgetting that the Magic were one bounce away to win game 2 as well. Can they beat LA without shooting 60+ from the field? Yes. Will they beat LA? I don’t know.

  • The D Train

    Orlando was very much in game 2 (as is the case in most close Lakers games, the refs called a ton of falls in the Lakers favor over the course of the last 5+ mins of the 4th quarter) and could have won on Lee’s oop at the end. They won last night and Dwight hasnt really even put his stamp on this series yet, so you can’t say that Orlando doesn’t have a better than average chance to still win this thing.

    Kobe is going to win you some, and he’s going to prevent you from winning some, but if Lamar keeps playing out if his mind, and Gass-hole keeps being an ugly-counterpart to Hedo, the odds have to be in their favor, simply because Kobe will probably will them to AT LEAST one more game, and they’ve got 2 more at home. That being said, if you can get Kobe frustrated (game 6 last year anyone?), you can get him to go into full-time-glory-mode which negates Lamar and Kung Pau, which is Orlando’s best hope.

    All of that is to say, I hope O-Town can sweep the next 4, cuz I just laid a few bones on them down in Vegas prior to game 2. 8-1 odds can pay pretty nice…

  • Jackie Moon

    8 to 1 odds is a pretty good payoff. Just make sure to take the odds for the Lakers too if they lose Game 4 to hedge your bet, because then they’ll devalue the Lakers way too much, if people overreact like they tend to do.

  • Bruno, RJ

    it wasn’t Kobe’s play.
    sure he missed 5 FT and thats not him (thats something to the ‘other one…) and he had that TO late, but hey…
    30 seconds on the clock, Phil calls timeout and calls that play?!~?!?!?
    Phil Jackson?!?!
    come on!!!
    why did the lakers shot 4 or 5 deperate treys for nothing?!?!
    had Kobe went in, he would have scored 2(maybe +1) and they could foul howard to have a game.
    plus, that good play Kobe-to-gasol HAD to be called a AND 1.
    orlando got ALL the calls last night. but they surely deserved to win.

  • Bruno, RJ

    when will somebody play D on Rashard on the last minute of the games?!?!?!?!
    how many of those shots he needs to make to ppl pay atention?!?!?!?
    .
    last night’s game was VERY GOOD.
    .
    Kobe is still BY FAR, the best ball player in the world. UNDISPUTED.

  • The D Train

    I like to come on here and read the Kobe-Lebron talk, or the Laker fans spewing man-love for Kobe, or just the general hate-filled rants of so many of the slamonline readers. All in all I’m much more voyeur than participant, a few diabtribe’s aside. However: whilst in Vegas this weekend I had the misfortune of watching Game 2 at the MGM sports book. The Laker fans were insufferable. If there had been a giant bronze Kobe cack there, they would have all been riding on it. My buddy and I sat there and just cheered O-Town a bit, no comments to anyone else, no trash-talk, nothing like that. So at the end of a tight game, that really could have went either way, we are showered with jeers and comments relating to us being biches, Orlando sucking and more Kobe-man-love. People bich about the Celtic fans, but the Lakers fans and their sense of entitlement goes right along with Kobe. He is perfect for them…or maybe they are perfect for him. Whatever. It’s too bad that at the end of the day, its harder to find someone who appreciates a good, close game and wins or loses graciously, than it is to find a bunch of a$$holes that feel it is their born right to win and then rub it in your face when they do. As an aside, the only comment I made was at the end of the game when I turned to my buddy and said, “i would have LOVED to have been here last year when LA got beat in game 6 by 30-some odd points. that would have been really enjoyable.”

  • http://www.galatasaray.org madamerica

    OK, I expected ordinary fans to talk about this after Game 3, but a post on SLAM?! This is dumb. Every game is different! There are other ways for the Magic to win than shoot 63%. They can win with good defense, which they did not show in Game 3. They can win with cutting down on their turnovers. They can win when Howard finally dominates inside. And they can win if they shoot about 50% on three pointers and hit 10+ of them. Just as the Lakers have multiple ways to win. It’s just a dumb dumb thing to say that the Magic must we worried because they won a close game the way they did. Seriously, I cannot believe a sophisticated basketball fan would talk about this.

  • Tenorca

    Was going to mention what Z did, namely, the Magic shot 40% and had a chance to win on the Lee oop. Let’s not get too excited about this.

  • http://Slamonline TADOne

    Im going to run train on all the lakers including the Black dipsh*t

  • http://www.newyorkshockexchange.com Old School Baller

    Great game last night. The Magic showed some championship grit and heart. With Pau Gasol and Lamar to go with Kobe, it is too much to ask of this Magic team to win four games. People focus on Kobe but getting another legit All-Star like Gasol for a song and a dance put them over the top. And with Odom’s length and guard skills, he can take over games down the stretch. The Lakers have 3 “go to” guys when they need a basket late in games, which means the Magic are a day late and a dollar short.

  • jdubbs29

    I went to the game last night in Orlando and here is my report:
    pregame:

    -I was geared for an epic Morrison-Redick battle based on all the pregame shooting those guys did, but it didn’t happen. Vujacic came out early for extra shooting and clanged shot after shot with no one on him. Uh oh.

    -Nick Anderson did the pregame pump up speech. Then he stepped up and missed 4 more FT’s for good measure.

    -Seen in the stands: Lil Wayne, Luda, Tiger, Chris Carter.

    -Orlando has a pretty tepid fan base overall, the place would get loud, but not as much as you’d think given the circumstances

    -You could get pretty decent upper level seats for about $75 to $100. Try THAT in LA.

    -Skip to My Lou brought out his full And-1 mix tape jigginess in game 3. On one baseline move he failed to convert but I think DFish is still trying to figure out what happened.

    -It was Hack-a-D-Ho all night long (because hack-a-ho just sounds wrong). If he can ever learn some actual low post moves and convert FT’s he’ll average 40 ppg.

    -When the Magic take a lead, they start getting pretty careless with the ball. They were up 8 and threw the ball away two straight times to get the Lakers back into it.

    -If you go to the game, stay at one of the local hotels and walk back instead of a 2 hour ordeal trying to get back at midnight.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Nice job, jdubbs!

  • Stan

    Kobe looks like he wanted to scream at Pau for losing the ball to Pietrus only to stop mid-scream and realize that he was the one who lost the ball in the first place. Good game for the Magic, can’t wait to watch game 4.

  • chintao

    Sorry, Skip. The fouls will be called, regardless of whether they happen. It gives a whole new meaning to the words “charity stripe”.

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  • riggs

    and the lakers barely won game 2…whats the point again?

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