Monthly Archive for June, 2009

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Lakers 99, Magic 91: Postgame 4

Derek FisherTo: Los Angeles Lakers Teammates
From: Derek Fisher
Subject: An NBA Finals Victory

Derek Fisher’s no stranger to big shots. In fact, big shots, particularly in the playoffs, are among his closest friends.

But nailing a three in the face of Orlando’s Jameer Nelson to force overtime in Game 4 of the NBA Finals with 4.6 seconds remaining took it to another level.

Of course, that shot alone would have been enough to produce flowing rivers of praise for a player that had endured a great deal of criticism for his play particularly early in the postseason, but to not only save the game but then add its winning shot by sinking another triple with 31.4 seconds left in overtime was almost too good to be true.

“It’s character,” said Phil Jackson. “It’s not just about talent, it’s about character, and he’s a person of high character, brings that to play, not only in just his gamesmanship but also his intestinal fortitude.”

“Even greater than 0.04 because I feel like we’re as close as possible from our end goal,” said Fisher, referring to his 2004 game winner against San Antonio. “It’s at the top.”

Kobe Bryant, who led the way with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, was happy to explain why he’s developed maximum trust in his point guard.

“He’s been there before,” said Bryant. “He’s been there and done that. In the locker room I was teasing him a little bit because he was 0-for-5 on threes before he made those last two. But that’s Derek, though. I think those shots at the end of the game are actually easier for him than the other ones.”

Fisher’s first dagger, which followed a Pau Gasol dunk with 31.9 seconds remaining, took L.A. from what seemed to be almost inevitable defeat – Orlando was up by five with the ball and less than a minute remaining – to a victory that brought them within a single victory of the NBA title.

After the top-of-the-key swish in OT, Gasol followed a Turkoglu missed three by streaking up the floor to collect a long rebound, taking a few steps and dunking to put L.A. up 96-91 with 21.6 seconds remaining to seal the deal, but L.A. knew it wasn’t time to punch the clock.

“We know we still have work to do,” said Fisher. “We’ve got to be ready to go come Sunday.”

That the Lakers had a chance to come back in the first place was courtesy of a fantastic third quarter that featured a swarming defense and 13 points from Trevor Ariza, turning a 12-point halftime deficit into a four-point lead heading into the fourth. Ariza’s, who also hit a huge three with 2:36 left in the fourth to tie the game, scored just one fewer point than Orlando in the third, and his teammates added 17 to cap a 30-14 quarter. The third made up for an odd first half that demanded all 12 players on the active roster to check into the game as Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom all picked up two early fouls.

Another huge factor in the outcome of the game was Orlando’s struggle at the free throw line; the Magic made just 22-of-37, including 13 misses from Hedo Turkoglu (five) and Dwight Howard (eight). No misses were bigger than two Howard clanks with 11.1 seconds left in regulation.

That provided the Lakers with that final chance, and anticipating a foul, Bryant passed immediately to Ariza, who found Fisher up the floor for his fateful jumper that left the Magic with little to say.

“The mood was very somber,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy of his locker room. “Very, very somber.”

As for the Lakers, it was fitting that Derek Fisher didn’t celebrate for too long, instead reminding his teammates of L.A.’s 2000 championship team that was trounced in Game 5 after taking a 3-1 lead in Game 4.

After all, L.A. needs another victory, and that’s the only number necessary tonight:

1
Wins needed for the Lakers to claim an NBA Championship.

…On second thought, one more number:

2
Derek Fisher’s jersey number was never so fitting.

Lakers – Magic Running Diary 4

57657160Read about the Lakers vs. Magic Game 4 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.

Game 1
Lakers – Magic Running Diary, June 4, 2009
Lakers 100, Magic 75: Postgame 1

Game 2
Lakers – Magic Running Diary, June 7, 2009
Lakers 101, Magic 96: Postgame 2

Game 3
Lakers – Magic Running Diary, June 9, 2009
Lakers 104, Magic 108: Postgame 3

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Magic: Tyronn Lue, Jeremy Richardson

Starters
Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum
Magic: Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard

Phil Jackson Pregame
Jackson’s response to a reporters relation of Alonzo Mourning’s quote that suggested Kobe Bryant was doing most of the work: “I’m just here kind of sitting on my chair.” His sarcasm suggested that he’s really not concerned about his coaching legacy, and need not seriously address such a claim. The argument suggesting that Jackson’s only won his nine titles because of stars is absurd … What NBA coach has ever won without star players? Jackson also said that he liked the NBA’s decision to allow for more movement on the perimeter by cutting down on hand checking: “It’s promoted cutting and more driving and less stagnation.” Finally, when told that 60 percent of the starters (6-of-10) in the NBA Finals did not play in college, Jackson said that he hopes they make it two and done, suggesting that the NCAA would be happy with that and that it could help players. “I’m a big proponent,” he said. “That being said, talent is talent, a lot of these young players have jumped from high school to the pros … The creme rises to the top.”

Stan Van Gundy Pregame
Interesting comment from SVG to open: “I don’t think there’s any question that it’s a tougher game for post players than it was with the old rules, and I don’t think many coaches, players or post players would dispute that.” Van Gundy added that high schoolers should have the right to “earn a living,” and had a problem with the one and done because the players (like Carmelo Anthony, O.J. Mayo, etc.) aren’t really going to school for school. That led to this quote: “I don’t want to get going on the NCAA in this press conference, because I think that’s about the worst organization going.” Solid.

Josh Powell – Rasheed Hazzard Pregame Video
We had forward Josh Powell grab the mic to interview assistant coach/advance scout Rasheed Hazzard, and you can CLICK HERE to see what happened.

Follow Us On Twitter
In case there aren’t enough observations for you in the diary, feel free to follow us on twitter on @Lakers or @miketrudell.

57658050First Quarter
12:00 The Magic again had Gina Marie sing the National Anthem, as she did before Game 3. She’s 7-0 on the season, but I’m not a superstitious kind of guy. Cute story nonetheless.

11:40 Ball movement got Ariza a wide open look at three on L.A.’s first possession, but he passed it up, drove and missed over Howard. L.A. tried to get Gasol the ball, but Lewis did a good job of fronting.

9:51 Bryant was giving Lee open threes to start the game, and after missing his first two, he converted from the top of the key. Bryant had L.A.’s only bucket at the other end until Fisher pulled up to put L.A. up 4-3.

8:41 Bryant quickly goaded Lee into two personals, bringing Mickael Pietrus into the game for Orlando … Remember, Pietrus was terrific in Game 3. On the other end, Bynum’s second personal brought Lamar Odom in, which could help Odom. In Game 3, he didn’t check in until the two-minute mark or so of the first. And indeed, he made his presence felt early with a put-back of Gasol’s miss.

6:45 L.A. wasn’t doing a good job of getting to Orlando’s shooters, and Alston made them pay with an open three that made it 12-8 for the home team, though Bryant answered moments later with an and-1 drive (3-for-3 on FT’s after going 5-for-10 in Game 3).

4:48 Just like in Game 3, Alston made L.A. pay for going under the pick and roll, pulling up for his second make, then using Howard’s block of Ariza to score in transition at the other end. Responding for the Lakers was Odom with a hook over Howard to make it 16-13 Orlando.

3:44 Gasol’s second foul brought D.J. Mbenga onto the floor at the earliest point in the season to my memory, but Howard’s two missed free throws made him 1-of-4 for the quarter.

2:48 Odom was whistled for his second as he joined Gasol and Bynum on the bench, with Luke Walton in to play the four alongside Mbenga. That hadn’t happened in the playoffs.

0:57.7 Alston really likes being in Orlando, apparently, making his fourth shot in five attempts to get to nine points to put L.A. in a six-point hole. However, Mbenga made a great play to swat Alston’s next attempt, and Bryant hit a jumper in JJ Redick’s face after Bryant drew Pietrus’ second foul minutes earlier.

0:00 The aforementioned Redick missed a three over Bryant as time expired, and L.A. trailed just 24-20 despite playing much of the quarter without Bynum, Gasol or Odom, getting 13 points from Bryant on 4-of-7 from the field and 5-of-5 from the line.
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Magic Running Diary 4′

Lakers Go To The Movies

A few hours after the Lakers returned from practice on Wednesday evening, they were instructed to meet in their hotel lobby to climb back onto the team bus. Attendance was mandatory. Here’s how Luke Walton described the event – which ended up being a trip to see Denzel Washington’s “The Taking of Pelham 123” – in his NBA.com blog:

Destination Unknown: At the end of practice today, Phil called us to the middle circle. He said everybody meet in the hotel lobby at 7:30 for a mandatory team bus tonight. Where are we going? Good question. I have no idea. Maybe we’ll see Mickey at Disney World or visit Epcot, go see a movie. Who knows?

The surprise trips are not uncommon. One time this season, we were in D.C. and we all got on the bus for a shootaround and next thing we know we were touring the city for two hours. Or another time in training camp in Hawaii, everyone thought we were going to practice and instead, Phil took us to a military field and we did paint ball for about four or five hours. I can’t imagine we’re doing paint ball tonight but you never know with Phil. Most of the time when Phil schedules these excursions, they end up pretty cool.

As it turned out, seeing what Josh Powell called “the Denzel joint” ended up being an ideal way for the Lakers to calm their collective mind prior to Thursday evening’s Game 4. As a point of fact, L.A. is 6-0 in the 2009 playoffs after a loss, and at the same time, is pretty confident that they know what to expect from the Magic.

We’ll see how Phil Jackson’s plan worked out at 6 p.m. Pacific.

Wednesday’s Quote Highlights

Kobe - PodiumHere’s a smattering of some of the more interesting quotes out of Wednesday’s NBA Finals practice from several of the Lakers:

Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant:
Q. What’s the challenge of finding a balance offensively, if you don’t shoot enough, you’re not being aggressive enough; if you shoot too much then you’re trying to do too much on your own? And how difficult is that?

KOBE BRYANT: You know what, I really don’t pay attention to it. I mean, my responsibility on this team, I have to do a little bit more, I’ve got to score and facilitate. So I have a lot more responsibilities, so I can’t just go off. I’ve got to get my guys involved sometimes. Sometimes you’re sacrificing your rhythm to try to rebuild it. Last night I couldn’t regenerate it.

Q. How do you know or when do you know when you’re going through a cold streak and you need to stop or when you need to keep shooting your way through it?
KOBE BRYANT: You know, if everybody is not in rhythm, if I feel like my guys are struggling that night, then I’ll shoot through it. Guys get things going, then I’ll keep going to them and try to find my way through it that way.

Q. What in your experience is the importance of winning on the road? How difficult is it to win on the road in the playoffs, and the importance of home court after such a long season, how much does that bear on The Finals?
KOBE BRYANT: I don’t think it’s too difficult to win on the road, to be honest with you. You have the team that executes very well, I don’t think the road is a factor. Home court to me from my perspective is not that big a deal.

Q. Are you aware of how well you have played coming off a loss with one day in between games? You guys are undefeated, and you have played particularly well in those games. Is that a conscious thing on your part, and what is your reaction to some speculation that you may have hit a wall last night, that you’re tired?
KOBE BRYANT: I mean, I’m aware of bouncing back after a tough loss. Hopefully we can do it again.
As far as me hitting the wall, so what if I did? I didn’t, but so what if I did?

Q. What does it mean if you did?
KOBE BRYANT: It means nothing.

Q. Because?
KOBE BRYANT: Because I’ll run straight through it.

Phil JacksonLakers Coach Phil Jackson:
Q. At the end of the Game 2 you had said there were some stretches where Kobe had tried to do a little too much. What did you feel about yesterday? Were there some of those stretches at the same time?
PHIL JACKSON: I think he read the defense all right. The last play, obviously a turnover, we’re not happy about that, and the second to the last play where he tried to cross over and they closed the gap on him. That happened once before. They’re trying to do that. But I think he’s reading the defense and he knows what’s coming ahead of him. He’s not going into it blind or a situation where he is just being strong minded. I think that’s important, that he stays flexible in those situations and sees the options.

Q. The fact that the Magic set a pair of records last night and you guys were still in the game until the final seconds, is that encouraging? And with Dwight Howard in the middle and all the three point shooters, do they represent one of the most extreme versions of the inside outside game that you’ve come up against?

PHIL JACKSON: That last question, yes, I think so. They’re probably the most threatening at that. But San Antonio has been doing that for years. Houston was doing it in the ’90s, that Hakeem Olajuwon team that they had that splayed the three point shooters around, an inside game with like one guy and Robert Horry sitting on the side in his rookie, sophomore season as a player. This has been around, and this threatening three point line has been a real factor for some time in the playoffs in many ways. The first question, ask me that again.

Q. They set a couple records, off the charts, and you guys were there anyway.
PHIL JACKSON: Well, that’s part of it. We said to ourselves, just give yourself a chance to win this game because we know the energy is going to be high, the crowd is going to be encouraged, and obviously it’s going to make a difference in their bench play. The players have had struggles up to this point. We feel like we’ve played well enough to win. We’re not disappointed in how we played, but we are disappointed in the loss.
Continue reading ‘Wednesday’s Quote Highlights’

Lakers 104, Magic 108: Postgame 3

KobeIn the old school NBA JAM 2-on-2 video game, players would get “On Fire” after three consecutive makes from the field.

On subsequent possessions with that player, the ball would turn orange, and a flame would follow the rock’s inevitable trail through the twine until the net singed off the rim.

That was just a video game, but perhaps riding the energy of a city’s first Finals appearance in 14 years, the Orlando Magic played as if each player were NBA JAM(ming), shooting an Finals record 62.5 percent (40-of-64) in the game, including a 75 percent (24-of-32) first half.

“Ball was going in the basket,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. “That always works.”

Yet L.A. stuck around.

Never trailing by more than eight, the Lakers managed to cut Orlando’s lead to just three with 5:55 to go in the game when Pau Gasol nailed a baseline hook, and two when Derek Fisher hit a three with 5:25 remaining. Then, with eight fourth quarter points from Lamar Odom and some key defensive stops, Gasol drew a foul with 2:41 remaining, sinking both freebies to tie the score at 99. At the point, the shooting percentages mattered little.

“That tends to even out,” said Phil Jackson.

As such, the teams traded blows into the final minute, and the Lakers came up with a key stop on Gasol’s block with 37 seconds remaining in the game to get the ball and a chance to tie, down two at 104-102.

Bryant, the ball in his hands, had struggled after a ridiculous 17-point first quarter, making just 4-of-15 shots, but … well … he’s Kobe Bryant. One expects him to make a play.

Instead, while attempting a high pick and roll with Gasol, Bryant lost the ball when Dwight Howard reached in; Mickael Pietrus eventually gathering the loose ball after Gasol appeared to have control. Bryant then wrapped up Pietrus, who sunk both freebies at the other end, putting the Magic up four with 28.7 seconds remaining.

From that point forward, the Lakers missed four three-pointers, two by Bryant, and the Magic held on to win 108-104 after two Rashard Lewis free throws with 0:00.2 seconds on the clock.

“It’s disappointing,” said Bryant. “I’m used to coming through in those situations, my teammates trust me to come through but it didn’t happen.”

“They made some plays down the stretch we weren’t able to match, even though we got the best in that fourth quarter,” added Phil Jackson.

Contributions to Orlando’s win came from across their roster. After getting little from any of their role players in Games 1 and 2, the Magic received huge contributions from Rafer Alston (20 points) and Mickael Pietrus (18 points) on a collective 15-of-23 shooting, complimenting 60 combined points from Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu.

For the Lakers, Bryant ended up with 31 points and eight assists, while Pau Gasol added 23 points and Trevor Ariza 13, but 10 missed free throws and 25 personal fouls hurt the road team.

So, whether it was a less-than-good defensive effort throughout of one misplaced Kobe Bryant dribble that did L.A. in, the Magic held serve at home to bring the NBA Finals to 2-1 with Game 4 back in Amway Arena on Thursday.

Until then, some numbers:

75
Magic shooting percentage at halftime on a ridiculous 24-of-32, though the Lakers weren’t bad at all with 22-of-41 (53.7 percent) shots. L.A. actually had control for most of the half, but a late Magic charge produced a five-point cushion at the half.

62.5
Orlando’s Finals record shooting percentage for the game on 40-of-64 field goals. They also shot 23-of-30 (76.7 percent) from the line.

38
Combined points from Rafer Alston and Mickael Pietrus, who combined for just six points in Game 2 and 20 points in Game 1 (14 from Pietrus).

18
Second chance points for the Lakers to just five for the Magic, in part because of Orlando’s hot shooting (which didn’t allow any follow ups). The Lakers grabbed 11 offensive boards to five from Orlando.

13
Turnovers for both teams, which produced 16 points, respectively.

11
Points off L.A.’s bench from both Lamar Odom (eight of which came in the fourth quarter) and Jordan Farmar, who played 16 minutes off the bench. Shannon Brown didn’t see the floor, and Sasha Vujacic saw only three minutes off action at the end of the first and start of the second quarter.

5
Three pointers from the Magic on 14 attempts, meaning Orlando shot 35-of-50 on two-point field goals, otherwise known as 70 percent.

Lakers – Magic Running Diary 3

Pau GasolRead about the Lakers vs. Magic Game 3 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.

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison, Sun Yue
Magic: Tyronn Lue, Jeremy Richardson

Starters
Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum
Magic: Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard

Phil Jackson Pregame
Jackson responded to a question about Pau Gasol’s apparent basket interference play by citing a Dwight Howard goaltend that had occurred earlier in the game. As the discussion continued, Jackson said that he thought the play was in fact a violation, but the rule actually showed that it was not since the ball’s path was not affected. He added a line about his backup point guard: “Just giving them both a little feel for the game. Jordan can energize us with his speed, quickness, his offensive ability out there. Shannon a little more in the defensive aspect of the game.”

Stan Van Gundy Pregame
“They’re doing a very, very good job defensively,” SVG said of the Lakers. His focus is limiting the turnovers (20 in Game 2), but eight of them came in a first quarter after which the score was 15-all. He also explained that Courtney Lee took no heat after missing what was “not an easy shot,” and said that the Gasol rim-touching did not affect the shot. “Calls didn’t decide that game,” he explained.

Shaw Pregame Video
While the Magic were the team that made more adjustments heading into Game 2 (they had to after getting blown out of the building by 25 in Game 1) the Lakers feel like they’re the team that can change a few critical things before Game 3 in Orlando tips off at 6 p.m. CLICK HERE to check out Brian Shaw’s scouting report.

Follow Us On Twitter
In case there aren’t enough observations for you in the diary, feel free to follow us on twitter on @Lakers or @miketrudell.

57643338First Quarter
12:00 The Magic had six of its cheerleaders and their kind-of-bizarre-friendly-green-dragon mascot repel from the rafters to lead into introductions, which didn’t feature a video. As such, we can declare that Houston by far had the best pregame intros for any of L.A.’s playoff opponents.

Moments later, Howard won the tip for the third straight game, then received a pass from Turkoglu. When Ariza came to help, Turkoglu had a wide-open three that would have sent an already frantic crowd into a frenzy, but he missed, and Fish hit a jumper at the other end to start the scoring.

10:43 Gasol’s baseline spin move worked easily on Lewis, and a one-handed dunk ensued after Lewis had hit from the baseline. On the next possession, Lee missed an open three, and Bynum’s hook was goaltended by Howard. Lakers 6, Magic 2.

7:44 Howard hit 1-of-2 free throws after the first foul of the game (on Gasol) to cap a 5-0 Magic run, but Ariza ended it with a pull-up jumper from the top of the key. Both teams were getting good looks at the basket. Yet the Magic had actually missed three wide open jumpers, which to me is a product of the pressure of being down 2-0 with a frenzied crowd ratcheting up expectations. That’s a lot to live up to.

4:54 Five straight points from Bryant, the second on a pull-up three, gave L.A. a 17-13 cushion prior to Bynum’s foul of the Turkish Turkoglu, who’d go to the line after the first TV timeout. Here are a few things you could do during a Finals’ TV timeout: run around the arena; count to 1 million; text everyone in your phone book; check your running diary for grammar errors.

3:46 Rafer Alston was 1-of-13 heading into the evening, but nailed his first three to help the Magic tie things up at 21 before Bryant made the prettiest of moves to get a finger roll off a post up. Meanwhile, Bynum had amassed four points and four boards in nine minutes before Odom lined up to check in, giving the Lakers exactly what they wanted. Furthermore, he committed only one foul after being saddled with foul trouble in Game 2.

2:36 Odom put a deep J up immediately upon entering the game and missed, equaling the amount of shots he missed in Game 2, but Bryant nailed two more pull up jumpers, looking like he did in Game 4 at Utah in the First Round when he was taking shots really early in the clock and nailing all of them. He was 6-for-7 with 13 of L.A.’s 27 points to put his team up two.

0:30.0 Bryant was simply masterful in the first, nailing a silly 25-foot three-pointer on Pietrus AFTER the Frenchman jumped into him. Bryant went on to hit the free throw to get to 17 points in the period with his Lakers up 31-27. Thanks largely to Kobe, the team shot 58.3 percent, which actually paled compared with Orlando’s 11-of-16 (69 percent).
Continue reading ‘Lakers – Magic Running Diary 3′

Game 3 Video Preview: Brian Shaw

Kobe Bryant - Rashard LewisWhile the Magic were the team that made more adjustments heading into Game 2 (they had to after getting blown out of the building by 25 in Game 1) the Lakers feel like they’re the team that can change a few critical things before Game 3 in Orlando tips off at 6 p.m.

Most prominently, according to assistant coach Brian Shaw, will be L.A.’s focus on keeping the ball out of the middle of the floor defensively, which hurt the Lakers in Game 2 and led to more open jump shots than were afforded in the first meeting.

Shaw said L.A.’s mindset it not to just steal a road game, but to win Game 3 and close it out in Game 4. Simply put, the Lakers aren’t planning on giving anything away.

Shaw also talked about L.A.’s success on the road throughout the season, featuring wins in Boston, Cleveland, and all three Western Conference Playoff cities, addressed what to expect from Kobe Bryant after a “sub par” Game 2 and explained how the Lakers’ scheme is designed to throw multiple different looks at Dwight Howard to confuse his offensive movement.

You can watch the full video on our Gameday Page by CLICKING HERE and scrolling down.

Playoff Podcast #23: Matt Money Smith

Matt Money SmithGreat Lakers Mind Matt Money Smith may host a National radio show, but many Lakers fans know him best for his work on AM570′s pre and postgame shows that sandwich each Lakers radio broadcast.

We appreciate Money for his rational, clear-headed Lakers take, which he showcased in an extended discussion from Orlando about the Finals, the impact of Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant’s offensive genius, Pau Gasol’s defense and more.

As always, listen below or check out Playoff Central for everything else you need to know about this series.

Finals Game 2 Wallpaper

Pau GasolThe Game 2 wallpaper spotlighting Pau Gasol’s And-1 bucket that sealed the overtime win for the Lakers is now available on Lakers.com. Go to the Lakers.com Wallpapers page to download the most appropriate size for your monitor.

Once again, thanks to Tyson Beck for the design.

Lakers 101, Magic 96: Postgame 2

TeamIt took overtime for the Lakers to find the same effort they’d put forth in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but at the end of a sunny Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, the home team managed to seal a five-point win that secured a 2-0 series lead, a luxury the Lakers didn’t have against either Houston or Denver in the West.

“We just drove ourselves through the game,” said Phil Jackson, whose team trailed by two heading into the fourth quarter and nearly lost at the buzzer. “I didn’t think Kobe (Bryant) had a good game at all as far as his standards go (but) we had other guys contribute. Lamar (Odom) had an outstanding game … He came through in a big way for us.”

That “almost lost” came after Bryant appeared to get hit on the arm with 0.6 seconds left on the clock before his attempt at a game winner was blocked, allowing Courtney Lee a chance to convert an alley-oop off the inbounds pass at the other end as regulation time expired, but he missed.

“There is a sense of relief because they played very well,” said Jackson. “However, we had the ball at the end of the game with nine seconds after making a really good defensive play. We didn’t get a good shot … But (that) disappointment didn’t weigh us down going into overtime.”

Though Orlando never led by more than three points, L.A. was able to respond to the adjustments the Magic made in no small part because of Odom, as alluded to by his coach.

While Bryant led the way with 29 points on 10-of-22 shooting plus eight assists, L.O. was fantastic in chalking up 19 points, eight boards, two assists and three blocks on 8-of-9 shooting in 45 minutes off the bench with Andrew Bynum in foul trouble all game. Odom made shots from all over the court to get his eight field goals, but it was two clutch free throws with 22.1 seconds left in OT that turned a three-point lead into a five-point edge and ultimately sealed the deal for L.A.

“Lamar just had a great, great game, particularly in the fourth quarter,” said Bryant after Odom scored eight points with three boards in the final regulation quarter.

The home team, who’s still undefeated this season while wearing its Sunday white uniforms, needed every one of Odom’s points as Orlando sent consistent double teams at Bryant, which worked for the majority of regulation as his non-Odom teammates struggled to hit shots. Most notably, a 4-for-11 start from Pau Gasol and Trevor Ariza’s 3-for-13 didn’t help. But in the overtime, in stepped Gasol and Derek Fisher.

First, Gasol drew a foul off Fisher’s penetration and hit both from the line (10-of-11 in the game). Next was a tough Kobe jumper over Hedo Turkoglu, and then a huge defensive play from Fisher, who stepped into the passing lane to intercept a JJ Redick pass before drawing a foul and sinking both foul shots at the other end to put L.A. up 94-91. If that wasn’t the game’s biggest play, then Gasol’s and-1 layup off Bryant’s dish was, as it gave the Lakers a 6-point lead that Orlando couldn’t overcome despite finding its three-point shooting stroke.

“The three-point shooters seemed to flourish tonight,” said Jackson, noting Rashard Lewis and Turkoglu’s combined nine triples. “It kept them in the ball game.”

What hurt the Magic, on the other hand, were 20 turnovers, resulting in 28 Lakers points, because L.A. knew the Magic were going to shoot much better than the 29-percent-effort in Game 1 of the Finals, and they did, netting 41.8 percent of their looks. The knew the general effort of Orlando would be much better, and it was, shown through a 44-35 edge on the glass that limited the Lakers to only four offensive boards. Furthermore, the Lakers mustered just 28 points in the paint after going off for 56 in Game 1, but they simply fought their way to a victory.

“They played extremely well, but we played well enough to win,” concluded Bryant.

Dwight Howard’s 17-point, 16-board double-double and 56 combined points from Lewis and Turkoglu were leaps and bounds better than the threesome’s Game 1 performance, but it wasn’t quite good enough.

“We wanted to win this game just to keep the pressure on them,” said Odom. “Both teams want this. It was is tough for us last year, getting embarrassed in Boston. I guess with this win, we kind of kept that pressure on. But we still have to take care of business, just focus on each possession.”

In two days, they’ll get a chance to do just that.

Until then, a few numbers:

1
Shot taken by Courtney Lee before he found the ball in his hands with consecutive chances to potentially win the game in the final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter. He missed both looks from close range as L.A. sent the game into overtime.

4
Threes made by the Lakers in the first half, one more than was made in the entire Game 1.

7
L.A.’s biggest lead in a closely-contested ball game that saw the Magic have no higher than a three-point advantage.

10
Points in the paint by the Lakers in the first half.

20
Shots missed by Orlando’s guards on 26 attempts, including Rafer Alston’s 1-of-8 and JJ Redick’s 2-of-9.

20
Shots made by Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis on 38 attempts, including nine of Orlando’s 10 three-point makes.

30
Orlando’s third quarter scoring output on 11-of-19 shooting, including 5-of-6 from Hedo Turkoglu, which turned a 5-point Magic deficit into a 2-point lead heading into the fourth.

85.7
L.A.’s free throw percentage on 24-of-28 makes, including 9-of-9 in the overtime.