Sunday, June 7, 2009

Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers 101, Orlando Magic 96

Hedo Turkoglu lobbed the ball toward the rim, like he did two years ago in a regular season game against the Spurs. Rashard Lewis set the pick and Courtney Lee came off.

He caught the ball and tried to lay it off the backboard, only to see it fall off the front rim. Lee shook his head after missing his second potentially game-winning basket in Game Two.

Recovering from a horrid effort in Game One, Orlando had the right moves to get the franchise's first Finals victory but fell off the front rim.

The Magic failed to execute in the overtime period as Kobe Bryant slashed his way to the rim and caused havoc offensively. Bryant finished with 29 points to lead Los Angeles to a 101-96 win and a 2-0 series lead.

Orlando had a much better effort in this game, especially on the defensive end. The two teams combined for 30 points in the first quarter, the lowest for any first quarter in Finals history. The physical play favored the Magic as they bided their time waiting for their shooting to come around.

As Stan Van Gundy noted to sideline reporter Dorris Burke in the first quarter, Orlando's effort on offense did not change. It got better as the game went on, but the team still struggled. The Magic went to the locker room down five points thanks to 20 first half points from Rashard Lewis.

Lewis scored 34 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had seven assists, putting in one of his best games in an Orlando uniform. In the third quarter, Hedo Turkoglu woke up. Turkoglu carried the team to the fourth quarter as he often does and finished with 22 points.

It was good to see the shots start to fall (although there were still a few that went halfway down and then back out, Orlando will need to solve those LA rims to win this series). But the offense was far from perfect.

Orlando had eight turnovers in the first quarter and finished with 20 in the game. It was still hard for the team to find good looks. Dwight Howard was used as a decoy for much of the game as he struggled to work his way in the post against the Lakers' double teams.

Howard generally passed the ball well, but Los Angeles' length continued to bother him. And it continued to bother the perimeter players. It was difficult throughout the night for the Magic to catch the ball in positions to shoot and driving lanes were cut off.

The Magic attacked it a lot more and did not look as scared about going after the Lakers as they did in Game One. Orlando started to match Los Angeles' physicality. But the team did not do it enough of the game.

At times, the Magic still looked to pass and still struggled. The turnover numbers say it all as Los Angeles poked the ball away and still interrupted Orlando's offense.

Defensively things looked a lot better. Orlando did a good job keeping Bryant out of the lane -- for the most part -- and forced others to beat them. They did with Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol getting some good bounces and hitting their shots.

The Magic were much grittier and scrappier on defense. They won the rebounding battle 44-35 and gave up only four offensive rebounds. This was much improved from Game One and something Orlando should look to keep.

In the end, this game was a missed opportunity. The Magic played much better and should have won this game. Los Angeles continued to frustrate Orlando offensively, but the team still had a chance to win. I expect things to change greatly at Amway Arena.

But home court alone will not change things. The Magic will need to find a way to keep their offensive flowing and execute to win Game Three. It will not be easy.

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