Read about the Lakers vs. Magic Game 1 as it unfolds. 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: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Magic: Tyronn Lue, Jeremy Richardson
Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum
Magic: Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard
Stan Van Gundy Pregame
The big news out of the pregame interviews was that Jameer Nelson will dress and will “probably” play according to SVG, a surprise as it was reported earlier on Thursday that he likely would NOT play. Here’s the quote: “We’re going to dress him today and probably play him. Some ways not a difficult decision because it just comes down to trying to make a decision that we think gives us the best chance to win. The easiest decision would have been to not play him … He would have understood and it wouldn’t have disrupted our rotation. He’s ready to go, we think he can put some pressure on their defense.” The plan is to put Nelson in off the bench when Rafer Alston takes a seat. Van Gundy said the Magic will stick with him regardless of how well or poorly he plays.
Phil Jackson Pregame
On Nelson’s impact: “We haven’t discussed it by name, but by position. The players with specific talents, we discuss them … Rafer filled in and was almost identical to what they (had with Nelson).” So, essentially, the Lakers aren’t thinking too much about it. Jackson also addressed the nervous energy that leads into Game 1 of the NBA Finals when asked how his younger role players might respond, but did not seem at all concerned with it. He feels that L.A. is ready to play, though of course several adjustments will be made after Game 1. Basically the same stuff we’ve heard all week.
12:00 The game ball was presented by a guy named Earvin Johnson, who was led “Magic” by Lawrence Tanter. The assembled crowd appreciated that (apparently he was pretty good at basketball).
11:24 After Howard’s miss, a deep catch in the lane by Bynum immediately produced a personal foul on Lewis. After the inbounds pass, Gasol found Bynum with a pretty pass just under the rim, resulting in a dunk and the first points of the Finals.
10:54 Much has been said about Orlando’s three-point shooting ability, which Turkoglu showcased in the corner after Alston’s penetration. While Bynum answered with an elbow jumper, Alston drove right past Fisher for a layup. Gasol then lost the ball on offense, and Howard scored his first points to put Orlando up 7-4.
7:56 Worried about foul trouble, Howard barely contested another Bynum hoop, as ‘Drew’s six points gave L.A. a 10-9 lead.
5:30 The first time out came after Bynum drew Howard’s first personal on an isolation play from the left block, the score tied at 14 with two free throws coming. Both teams shot well in the first six minutes, combining for 13-of-25 (52 percent), primarily from the inside, as Turkoglu’s was the only 3-pointer attempted.
3:30 L.A.’s defense was happy to allow deep jumpers from sub Tony Battie, while Fisher and Gasol sunk theirs to put the Lakers up 20-16 as Bynum’s second foul so Odom check in.
2:36 Walton checked in for Ariza and immediately got a dunk for Gasol (you wonder why players love playing with Walton) who then drew Howard’s second foul on the other end. Meanwhile, Mickael Pietrus had checked in to guard Bryant, and Marcin Gortat in for Howard.
0:45.2 Orlando took the lead on an Alston layup after Bryant missed for the fifth time in eight attempts.
0:01.0 Another Bryant miss wouldn’t quite climb over the rim at the buzzer, allowing Orlando the 24-22 lead after the first quarter of the Finals.
12:00 On the floor for L.A.: Farmar, Vujacic, Walton, Odom and Gasol; For Orlando: Jameer Nelson, Courtney Lee, Mickael Pietrus, Rashard Lewis and Marcin Gortat. Odom opened the scoring with a jumper to tie things up, until Nelson found Gortat with a pretty bounce pass for an open dunk.
10:45 Lewis hit an open three to put the Magic up five, but Odom threw a Walton miss in with a two-handed dunk at the other end. Still, as Nelson scored at the other end, the Lakers’ second unit was on it’s heels for a minute or so.
7:05 With the smaller Lee on him, Walton smartly went to the block on consecutive possessions, scoring twice to bring L.A. within one until Bryant’s leaner made it 34-33 Lakers.
5:15 Two straight Bryant jumpers capped a 10-0 Lakers run that produced a five-point lead. Meanwhile, Nelson’s hesitation in taking perimeter shots hurt Orlando’s offense.
2:55 Not missing any longer was Bryant, with two more jumpers that followed a Fisher three to put L.A. up 45-39. Fisher’s shot was his third make in four attempts for seven points, plus two boards and an assist in a solid first half. Bryant was up to 14 points, and Luke Walton was very productive off the bench with six points and an assist, plus some tough defense on Turkoglu.
2:34 L.A. runs its inbounds alley-oop play at least once a game, and, shocker, it worked yet again as Bryant found Odom for a layup off the lob. It must have a 85 percent success rate on the season.
0:32.0 A play with less of a success rate is an inbounds pass to Fisher underneath the rim for a deuce, but it worked that time as L.A. went up by 10, it’s largest margin of the game.
0:04.1 Bryant capped a 5-of-8 second quarter with a running layup over the outstretched arms of Gortat that countered two Turkoglu free throws to keep the lead at 10 heading into the half. L.A. outscored the Magic 31-19 in the quarter, boosted by Bryant’s shooting, Walton’s all-around play and a really solid six points, six boards and a steal from Lamar Odom.
A few stats: Orlando made just 6-of-19 shots in the 2nd quarter, struggling to get good looks, while L.A. made 15-of-25 (60%); L.A. outscored Orlando 36-18 in the paint. The Magic dominated the lane vs. Cleveland, but L.A.’s a much different team; L.A. totaled 12 assists to Orlando’s six.
11:43 Bryant will post up Courtney Lee all game if Orlando doesn’t double, which produced the first bucket of the third. Bryant then used a Bynum swat of Lee to pull up on the baseline, sinking the jumper to get to 22 points and put L.A. up 14.
10:39 Bynum missed a gimme layup after up-faking Howard, and Lewis hit a three at the other end, meaning a potential 16-point lead was just 11. Moments later, Bynum was hit with a touch foul on Howard before the ball made it down the court, bringing Odom back into the game.
9:32 Howard, fouled again, missed his second but had still converted 7-of-10, which Orlando was very happy with as the lead went back to 10.
8:17 Finally, Orlando made L.A. pay for doubling Howard. Bryant sinked off Lee to help Gasol, and Howard kicked it out for an open triple that answered two Kobe free throws (24 points in 24 minutes).
5:42 For the second time tonight, Gasol drew an offensive foul on Howard, then orchestrated a layup for Odom and one himself to give L.A. its biggest lead at 68-50. The Magic, who led the league in scoring defense in part because of a slower offensive pace, had absolutely no answer for L.A.’s interior passing.
3:17 Bryant, just at another level from everyone else on the floor, nailed two more jumpers, the second of which came plus the foul, to get to 34 points and give the Lakers a 22-point lead. With two free throws on the next possession, Kobe had outscored the Magic 18-12 in the quarter to that point.
1:55 Ariza’s first wing three came courtesy of Bryant, who drew the attention on the other side of the floor, and gave L.A. a 25-point lead. In addition to Bryant’s 36 points, he added eight assists and seven boards in a truly fantastic three quarters.
0:26.0 The offense just kept coming from L.A., who saw Gasol tip in Ariza’s miss for an 82-56 lead. The Magic pulled back two points on a Pietrus layup, but the Lakers claimed serious control of the game with a 29-15 quarter.
10:19 Gasol’s bucket in the lane preceded an Odom and-1 that found the Lakers up 88-60 as Kobe Bryant clapped on the sideline.
7:16 Though Orlando had whittled only three points off L.A.’s lead, Bryant still checked back in to make sure the Magic got nothing going. Joining him on the floor were Farmar, Walton, Odom and Bynum.
5:58 Bryant swatted Gortat. He was everywhere.
2:14 The Magic hit back-to-back threes, finally, but still couldn’t get anywhere close with L.A. up 97-73 after Bryant hit the 40-point mark.
0:00 With the bench emptied, Orlando got a few points back, but all-in-all it was a dominant opening statement from the Lakers, thanks to a combination of Kobe Bryant, 7-foot lane-clogging from Bynum and Gasol and some nice bench boostage.