The Los Angeles Lakers were lucky to survive regulation Sunday night when Courtney Lee missed the game winning layup off of a beautifully diagrammed inbounds play from Stan Van Gundy. The Lakers went on to put away the resilient Magic 101-96 and take a 2-0 lead as the series shifts to Orlando for Game 3 on Tuesday. Despite a rather subpar 29 points and 8 assists from Kobe Bryant, L.A. got a big boost from both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. With L.O. getting more publicity lately for his apparent candy obsession, than for anything he actually did on the court, he came through with 19 big points. Former head coach and current ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy stated that “If Lamar Odom plays well, the Lakers have no chance of being beaten.” Mike Tirico even went as far as declaring it “The Lamar Odom Show,” which may have been a stretch. The bearded Spaniard Gasol definitely played his part with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
The first 3 quarters however proved extremely futile as a 65-63 score at the start of the 4th clearly indicates. If not for an 18 point 2nd quarter from Rashard Lewis, Orlando would have only had 15 points at halftime. The broadcast crew continually reaped praise upon the defense but the fact of the matter is the shooting was just awful. There were numerous wide-open shots missed by Gasol, Howard, Redick, etc. Orlando shot 33% from behind the arc, ultimately keeping them around though still not on par with their Conference Finals run. The Lakers by no means played well, but ultimately deserved the W by making the plays down the stretch. Lamar Odom, a 59% free throw shooter these playoffs, calmly stepped to the free throw line and sank two clutch foul shots with 22.1 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Orlando fans are left to ponder what may have been. They did have opportunities to tie this series before overtime, but now they’re headed home. A home where the players hope the tempo of this series will be elevated drastically, preferably in their advantage. Despite the 0-2 deficit the entire Orlando area will surely be in a ruckus over their team’s 2nd Finals appearance in their 20-year history
For a Suns fan, we have only 1976 and 1993 to fall back on, the latter of which I was alive to witness. I’ve started to get a appreciate living in Lakers territory, amongst the masses of tradition rich die-hards. After every playoff game this postseason, the second you see the clock hit 0.00, cheers and applause can be heard right out my windows from all the neighbors. These people want another championship. Actually, they expect and demand it, and rightfully so. 14 titles does that to people.