Sunday, June 7, 2009

NBA Finals Game 2

The first assignment for the Magic after Game 2 of the NBA Finals might be making sure rookie Courtney Lee isn't ruminating about the end of regulation. He missed two shots from close range in the last 10 seconds, either of which would have provided visiting Orlando the winning margin in what turned out to be a 101-96 overtime victory for L.A. that gives the Lakers a 2-0 series lead. Lee drove the lane with 10.5 seconds to go and missed a contested layup, but after Hedo Turkoglu blocked Kobe Bryant's shot on the other end, Lee received an unexpected second chance. He broke toward the basket on a backdoor cut as the ball was being inbounded on an inbounds play with six-tenths of a second go to, catching the ball in the air and switching hands to get a shot off in time over the outstretched hands of Pau Gasol. The ball was shot with a little too much force and bounced off the backboard and away. It was a tough shot, and the layup before was far from a wide-open opportunity. Stan Van Gundy and Lee's teammates must impress upon him that the weight of the loss does not fall on his shoulders alone. The Magic simply made too many mistakes, turning the ball over 20 times while Van Gundy's lineup experiments bore no fruit. Van Gundy used Rashard Lewis as a small forward with centers Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat on the floor early in the fourth quarter, and went largely without a point guard down the stretch. The Lakers were unfazed, as Kobe, Gasol and Odom all proved why they're top-level talents. Kobe did plenty of scoring and passing, with 29 points and eight assists, while Gasol had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Odom went for 19 points and eight rebounds in 46 minutes. The Magic had the hot-shooting Lewis, who nailed six treys for 34 points to go along with 11 rebounds, 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting from Hedo Turkoglu and a 17-point, 16-rebound night out of Howard. They just didn't have a complimentary player like Derek Fisher, who nailed a couple of three-pointers and went 4-for-9 from the field overall to register as L.A.'s fourth double-figure scorer with 12 points. No one other than the three high-scorers for Orlando had more than five points. Fisher played 41 minutes while his understudies Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown were out there for just six minutes apiece, and the veteran rewarded coach Phil Jackson's confidence. Kobe, Gasol and Odom will be remembered as the prime movers for this Lakers team if they can win two more games, but Fisher remains an invaluable asset when he's needed the most.

The NBA finals are always hyped as a clash of stars, but role players often have as much to do with the outcome as anyone else. Veteran Derek Fisher, who at times has struggled with his shot this year,

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