Lakers 94, Magic 96: Running Diary

100307kobeLakers – Magic Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Magic contest in Orlando while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to avoid losing three consecutive games for the first time since acquiring Pau Gasol in February of 2008.

Inactives
Lakers: Sasha Vujacic (shoulder)
Magic: Adonal Foyle

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Magic: Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard

Pregame Notes
The most interesting pregame information regarded the fact that Kobe Bryant didn’t come on the team bus, instead taking a few more moments at the team hotel due to a stomach ailment. “He’ll be here,” said Phil Jackson. “He’s going to be all right.” For more, CLICK HERE.

59836098First Quarter
11:30 Pau Gasol came out aggressively after consecutive sub-standard individual games as the Spaniard first backed aggressively into a double-team and missed a turnaround, then tipped in Andrew Bynum’s missed tip of his first shot. The Magic got a corner three from Lewis on their first possession, but the Lakers coaches were happy to see Bynum aggressively contest on pick-and-roll action, which had been stressed in Saturday’s practice.

6:07 Kobe Bryant, appearing to feel just fine (stomach) judging from his 7-0 scoring spurt that put L.A. up 12-9, watched as Bynum picked up his second personal foul on defense. Both came while trying to contest Vince Carter and Matt Barnes respective drives, as opposed to isolation on Dwight Howard, bringing Lamar Odom into the game for the first time. When Odom picked up two fouls himself in just two minutes, Josh Powell checked into the game; this effectively made the Lakers more of a perimeter-oriented team, since Howard could guard Gasol 1-on-1 and the Lakers couldn’t exploit a mismatch at the four.

1:30 The stat of the first quarter: the Magic were at the free throw line so often they nearly had time to build a house (or at least a shed), attempting a ridiculous 18 foul shots. Carter alone got to the charity stripe 10 times (without a miss) to help Orlando take a 31-24 lead into the second. Carter finished with 15 points despite only two field goals, while Bryant put up 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting for the foul-trouble-saddled Lakers. But the bottom line: that L.A. is only down seven after being saddled with foul trouble, making only 31.8% of their shots and allowing 18 FTs wasn’t bad.

59836116Second Quarter
6:17 Continuing our personal foul watch: Both Bynum and Howard got tagged with their third fouls on iffy plays at respective ends, bringing Gasol back in for L.A. and Gortat for the Magic. L.A. had trimmed what had been a 10-point lead to just four with an 8-2 run keyed by Odom, who had six points, three rebounds and two assists in the first half of the second.

3:27 It has to be at least somewhat haunting for Magic fans to see Derek Fisher nail a three-pointer in this building after his two nasty daggers that won Game 4 of the Finals for L.A. In this case, the his first make of the game brought the Lakers within four points at 48-44.

0:05.1 The lead would stay at four heading into halftime after Artest’s fadeaway rimmed out in the final seconds. Howard and Bynum ended up playing just 11 minutes apiece in the half, nearly equaling each other statistically. The Lakers managed just 34 percent shooting from the field, but turned the ball over only four times and held Orlando to 39.5 percent shooting to hang around. Bryant did not score in the second quarter, missing his only two shots, while Odom put up six points, four boards and two assists while playing the majority of the period.

59836111Third Quarter
8:43 Apparently unaware of the history of going at Kobe 1-on-1, Matt Barnes continued to get in Bryant’s face, at one point resulting in matching technicals during a “I’m-not-going-to-budge” face off. A minute later, Barnes notched a put-back dunk, then seemed to deliberately land in Kobe’s face. So Bryant promptly went at Barnes on defense, drawing a foul on the baseline for two free throws before simply starting in Barnes’s face at the other end before an inbound pass. This should be fun to watch. In the actual game, L.A. kept within four on Gasol’s dunk at the rim.

4:36Lewis wasn’t doing much besides taking threes, but fortunately for the Magic, he nailed back-to-back bombs (four total) to cap a 7-0 run that appeared to put Orlando up 68-57, forcing L.A.’s time out. But wait … his second three was wiped out by the refs – who reviewed a 24-second shot clock violation – and Fisher’s jumper cut the lead to six at the other end.

0:27.8 The Magic controlled the final four minutes of the quarter, building their lead to 12 on two different occasions before Gasol drew Howard’s fourth foul and made both free throws to make it a 10-point game heading into the final period. However, Orlando had added six points to its halftime lead, and L.A. got only three points from Bryant in the third quarter and none in the second. Could Kobe turn things around, in a big way, in the fourth?

59836122Fourth Quarter
9:33 The lineups trotting out to start the fourth favored L.A. in a big way: Farmar, Brown, Bryant, Odom and Bynum vs. J-Williams, Mickael Pietrus, JJ Redick, Marcin Gortat and Lewis. And sure enough, the Lakers ran out to a 6-0 run to cut the lead to four, keyed by solid defense, two buckets from Kobe (his first FG’s since the first, remember) and an Odom jumper. Time out, Stan Van Gundy.

6:33 Gasol was called for a flagrant one foul by hitting the head of Howard despite Dwight’s dunk (basket counted), giving Orlando the points plus two free throws and the ball. Howard, however, missed both free throws, and Pietrus was called for offensive goaltending on the inbounds pass to negate his own dunk. Then came Kobe, who nailed a three in the face of Barnes before drawing Howard’s fifth foul on a drive to the bucket and making both free throws to make it 81-79 Magic with 5:09 to play. Artest had struggled throughout the game offensively, making only 2-of-10 shots, but had checked back in; Jordan Farmar (who was replaced by Fisher), meanwhile, missed all four of his shots off the bench.

1:10 After Bryant had his way with Barnes for nearly the whole fourth quarter, things went the other way in a (hugely important) 20-second window. After Bryant stripped Carter, he pulled up for three and missed … then at the other end, Bryant leaked into the lane to help on Nelson’s penetration, and Barnes nailed a three-pointer to put Orlando up six.

0:12.9 Just an incredible sequence, so let’s go number by number:
1) Gasol tips in Bryant’s miss, Lakers down four.
2) Howard misses 1-of-2 free throws, Magic up five.
3) Bryant nails a 22-foot three-pointer from the corner to cut Orlando’s lead to two.
4) Nelson misses 1-of-2 free throws, Magic up three.
5) Bryant appears to nail a ridiculous dagger three to tie the game, but the shot is changed to a two. Foot on the line, Magic by one.
6) Carter misses 1-of-2 free throws (uh…yeah), Magic by two.
7) Kobe misses potential game-tying two-point jumper as the final buzzer sounds.

That whole series of events practically had the Magic fans – and Stan Van Gundy – ready to jump into the Atlantic Ocean (a short drive away), but they somehow held on to send the Lakers to their third straight loss for the first time since the franchise acquired Gasol from Memphis in February of 2008.

They’ll get a chance to end the losing streak on Tuesday back in L.A. against Toronto. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
4 Blocks in only 20 minutes by Andrew Bynum, who was saddled with foul trouble throughout the afternoon on some pretty tough calls.

7 Lakers turnovers in the game, helping the team overcome a poor shooting night (37.5 percent).

11 Orlando’s edge on the glass, 50-39.

18 Free throws taken by the Magic in the first quarter alone, of which they made 17 including Vince Carter’s 10-of-10. The Magic ended up taking 39 foul shots for the game, far above average in the NBA.

34 Game-high point total for Kobe Bryant, only three of which came in the second and third quarter. Pau Gasol added 20 points alongside 11 rebounds in a pretty solid game.