As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.
Lakers: Jordan Farmar, Luke Walton
Magic: Mickael Pietrus, Jeremy Richardson, Mike Wilks
Lakers: Fish, Kobe, Vladi, Pau and Bynum
Magic: Jameer Nelson, Courtney Ley, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard
Did you know that the capital of Madagascar is Antananarivo? Now you do. I think it’s high time for an NBA player from Antananarivo. Preferably, he’d be named after Andrianampoinimerina, a great historical figure of the African island nation. In unrelated news, it’s important for L.A. to contain Jameer Nelson, who went off for 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting in Orlando’s 106-103 win on Dec. 20. Nelson is not from Madagascar.
11:03 Bynum, after opening the game with a dunk, beat Howard down the floor and received
10:07 Bynum again, on the offensive glass off Gasol’s miss, scores his third bucket of the game to double his scoring output from Orlando already, where he was limited to 12 minutes by fouls. Ty made a good point that Howard’s been leaving Bynum a bit to help Lewis on Gasol, but more than anything else it’s Bynum’s aggressiveness that’s been the best sign.
8:55 Vladi three, and an early 9-2 lead for Los Angeles.
7:45 With Lee playing good defense on Kobe, the MVP spun around him, leaned into the lane and took a 15-footer … with his left hand … and scored. Silliness.
5:50 Howard with a put-back dunk that must have taken some paint off the rim due to unnecessary force. Kobe’s Olympic teammate isn’t small, and brought his Magic within three at 13-10 halfway through the first. Two notes: Gasol’s 0-for-3, while Fisher already has two steals and three dimes.
5:25 As Fisher misses a contested baseline jumper, one wonders why the Lakers stopped going to Bynum? Howard doesn’t like to get into foul trouble early … Why not exploit that if you’re L.A.?
4:14 It wasn’t Bynum, but a wide-open look from Vladi will certainly do. Swish, and a 16-11 lead.
3:29 After Tony Battie was allowed to dunk following Howard’s losing control of the ball, Radmanovic missed and Turkoglu didn’t, from three, to tie the game at 16.
3:07 Radmanovic cans another triple on Bryant’s dime, and has a game-high nine points.
2:16 There’s Howard’s second personal, drawn by Gasol with an aggressive move to the cup. Basically, Howard isn’t a smart/good enough defensive player to both play straight up and not foul early in the game; he’s either going to concede a shot, or bail you out with a foul. Obviously, he’s a freak athlete and great shotblocker due to his size, but most of his blocks come on the weak side (admittedly, not the one on Bynum early in the quarter, that was fierce). So yeah. In other news, Vujacic checked in after ESPN’s 20-minute TV timeout. We’ll see how that back feels…
0:47.4 Marcin Gortat, Orlando’s effective backup center who was drafted by Phoenix and traded to Orlando for cash (as the Suns love to do), is mean looking. Meanwhile, Battie hit a jumper to tie the score at 20.
0:03.0 There’s Lamar, from three to put L.A. up three at the break. The Lakers shot the ball quite poorly (37.5 percent), including an 0-for-8 from Fisher and Gasol, but turned the ball over only twice.
10:20 Trevor Ariza, who uncharacteristically didn’t play in the first quarter, took out any lingering aggression with a massive stuff on Gortat, plus the foul, to put L.A. up 28-25.
7:31 As Turkoglu hits a jumper, the Magic pull to within 33-29 but we’re more concerned that the Lakers have done an excellent job of rotating defensively, not giving up dunks to Howard or threes to Orlando (2-of-5).
6:48 Bynum looks good tonight. There’s another hoop, this time off Bryant’s fifth assist, for Drew’s 12th point and a 37-30 lead.
5:27 Gasol checks back in with just one point, but let’s again point out that Orlando’s taken only five threes – they average 26 attempts a night and hit an NBA record 23 triples the other night. Alas, sure enough, Gasol went at Howard and scored his first field goal to make it 41-34.
4:14 Gasol again, using another Kobe pass (six dimes), to put L.A. up nine, the biggest of the night.
2:39 Lewis for three. Finally. That was the first time in the game where L.A. simply blew a defensive assignment and gave up an open look, and the league’s leader in three-pointers made converted to make it a six-point game.
0:25.0 A great pass from Nelson found Courtney Lee, Orlando’s rookie out of Western Kentucky, for a triple in the corner.
0:05.4 Fisher, with the answer, from three. Big momentum-changing shot to close the half from the point guard, who doesn’t appear to be suffering any ill-effects from that slightly-strained groin, to put L.A. up 52-44 at the break.
Orlando didn’t look nearly as good in the first half as they did at home, and I’m not sure how much credit should go to the Lakers and how much blame to the Magic.
10:10 After writing that, Orlando created consecutive turnovers and turned them into five points, first on a Lewis three and second a Lee layup in transition. Then, after Bynum missed on the baseline, Nelson drew a Fisher reach-in as he attempted a three, and made each to bring Orlando within one, 54-53. That’s a 9-0 run for the Magic.
8:45 One of the ugliest shots off glass seen this season somehow drops for Howard. Yikes.
8:04 There’s the tie, coming after Nelson’s layup when L.A. looked lethargic in transition. L.A.’s been poor for all four minutes of the quarter … A dose of Ariza/Odom/Vujacic might be in order?
Nope. Phil’s sticking with the starters. I’ll defer to the nine coaching rings.
6:33 Who is this Lee kid? That’s his second three, for a three-point Magic lead at 63-60. The Lakers have struggled to get good looks out of their offense this quarter, instead simply giving Bryant the ball and forcing him to create.
5:30 Lewis from three, in transition, after another turnover, and Orlando was suddenly up eight. That’s an 18-point turnaround already this quarter.
4:15 Out of a hard trap on Bryant at half court, Kobe found Odom in the middle of the floor, who beautifully streaked to the rim and finished plus the harm to stop the bleeding.
3:34 Odom then collected an offensive board, and found Kobe for three to make it a five-point game.
2:55 After clearing his ninth rebound, Bryant pushed the ball up the floor and found Vujacic for a look from three. Miss. However, Bryant stole Howard’s outlet pass and fed Radmanovic for an open three to make it 71-69 Magic. Great answer from the Lakers, led by Bryant, who with 17 points, 10 dimes and nine boards now has a guaranteed triple-double for the first time since last Nov. 19.
2:40 Triple-double, after rebound No. 10, for the 15th in his career.
2:34 After a terrific defensive play from Odom, who swatted Lee at the rim, Radmanovic nailed his fifth three of the game and second in a row. Odom, by the way, was the last Lakers player to notch a triple-double, which came against Minnesota on Feb. 13, 2008.
0:00.01 Gasol tipped the ball in at the quarter buzzer.
How about that third quarter? The Lakers came in leading by eight, quickly allowed the Magic to take a nine-point lead at 69-60, and then scored 15 of the last 20 points to reclaim the lead by a point. In other words, L.A. feel asleep, then woke up.
9:33 Odom cans his second-straight running layup to put L.A. up 79-78. Among the NBA’s top 10 adjusted +/- performers in the league, Odom’s a game-high +15 on this evening.
8:39 Kobe time, checking in after Odom scored again.
8:13 J.J. Redick, for three, and an 85-81 Magic lead after Howard had scored on the previous possession and Fisher missed a three.
6:18 Alley-oop from Nelson to Howard for a huge slam, and an 87-85 Magic lead. This one’s turned into a heavyweight fight, as the Magic are without question a team that Boston and Cleveland can’t be too excited about.
5:41 A Bryant jumper and two Ariza free throws give L.A. the lead back.
4:39 Interesting lineup situation here as Bynum checks right back in for Gasol after Pau had replaced him a minute earlier. On the floor for L.A. are Fish, Kobe, Ariza, Odom and Bynum.
4:18 Big triple from Nelson, his first of the night in four attempts, to give Orlando a 92-90 lead. At least until two more Bryant free throws that tied it up.
3:38 After Bryant got knocked to the floor and didn’t get a call, Turkoglu nailed a three in transition as Bryant couldn’t get back in time (ESPN showed the reply soon after and it was very obviously a foul). That was the 26th three attempted by the Magic (their average), 10 of which went in (38.4 percent). The Lakers were right there with 8-of-21 (38.0 percent) from three.
2:48 Odom makes 1-of-2 free throws for a two-point blue jersey lead.
2:35 Ariza, trying to draw a charge, was called for a block that preceded consecutive free throw misses from Howard.
2:19 Fish, for three. Cash. Great pass from Gasol, who got the ball after Orlando again doubled Bryant.
1:51 What? Huh? First, Lewis threw up a deep two with two seconds left on the shot clock and Bryant was called for a reach. Then, after Howard elbowed Gasol, Pau lightly pushed him and was given a technical foul. Nelson missed the technical, and Lewis made both to give Orlando a 97-96 lead. Interesting.
1:39 Kobe, to the rack, what a move and a one-point lead.
1:26 Nelson for three. Wow. Magic by two.
1:07 What a game. There’s Lamar, corralling a loose ball after Gasol stole the pass from Howard, finishing plus the harm from Howard. He missed the free throw, but Gasol tipped it back to Odom, who drove and drew another Howard foul. This time, Odom made the first and missed the second (4-for-7 now) and Gasol was called for a push on Howard.
As such, Howard went to the line, and missed the first (8-of-15). The second? Amidst a crescendo of Lakers supporters, Howard made it. Tie game.
0:52.0 Bryant drew Howard from the hoop and missed, but Gasol was there to tip it in. Lakers by two.
0:35.7 Jameer Nelson. Three. Again. His second in a minute, at the most crucial of times, to put Orlando up one.
0:18.9 Kobe from 20 feet … No good. Lewis cleared the board, and dished to Nelson, who was fouled by Gasol and hit both free throws for a three-point Magic lead with 15.4 remaining.
0:10.1 Kobe got a great look from three, but missed. Again, a great, wide-open look from Bryant, who like everyone in the building, couldn’t believe that he missed. Back to the line goes Nelson.
Nelson made both free throws, and now has 28 points, 15 of which have come in the fourth quarter, primarily on those last-two-minutes threes and late free throws. Last time these teams met, he had 27, but was effective throughout the game. Now he’s buried the Lakers.
0:04.4 Another miss from Bryant, to seal Orlando’s season sweep of the Lakers. How about that? Thanks to Nelson (28 and eight assists) and Howard (25 and 20 boards), Orlando’s now 32-8, while the Lakers fall to 31-8. If they meet again, it’ll be in the NBA Finals.