Monday, June 08, 2009

Orlando Game 2 thoughts

This looked like a game later in a series, where both teams have figured out what each other do to the point that neither can do anything. Late in the 2nd I was asked who was winning and could only answer "the defenses" as it was 26-26 at the time.

First quarter:
* Did Kobe tweak his ankle there? He showed some discomfort, but after a couple of trips up and down the floor it seems to be forgotten, to his relief and ours.

* Bynum picks up his 2nd at 7:54 on a Howard repost. Early Odom tonight.

* Lee picks up his 2nd 10 seconds later, Pietrus to make an early entrance as well.

* Brilliant defensive play by Fish, drawing a charge to break up a 2 on 1 fast break. And I'm not sure he didn't force Pietrus to travel before he stumbled into the charge.

* Now Fish gets a steal and draws the 2nd on Pietrus at 5:22. With both of his 2's gone, Van Gundy chooses to go big with Gortat at the 4, Lewis and Turkeyglue on the wings.

* Kobe has thrown up 3 awful shots in the first 7 1/2 minutes, making 1. This is not the time to start settling!

* Lewis becomes the third Earvin with 2 fouls at 4:04. Redick checks in to give them a more conventional lineup without sacrificing shooting.

* Orlando has 6 turnovers already in 8 1/2 minutes, but the Lakers are joining them in the slop as it's only 11-10. Both teams are really struggling on offense and in shooting when they do get a rare good look.

* Fish draws a hip check pick foul on Howard, his 1st, to stop them from getting the last shot. Like they would have done anything with it, or like we would make them pay, good luck with all of that.

15-15 in what is, yes, the lowest scoring 1st quarter in Finals history (they did not say whether that's 24 second era only). Orlando shot 4/14 and the Lakers countered with a red hot 6/20. Orlando benefitted from an 8-4 free throw advantage (+4 points) and the teams each hit a single 3.

Second quarter:
* Orlando is up 8-4 in points in the paint, and it's 19-19. You can tell that the Lakers' approach is not quite as good on the offensive end tonight.

* Farmar hits his second jumper to give us a 21-19 lead, nice spark early.

* Luke picks up his 2nd at 9:12.

* Bynum with a nice and-1 for a 24-19 lead.

* Farmar with a bad heat check 3. Those are the kinds of things that make you wonder if he's ever going to get it.

* Lewis has 11 on 5/7 shooting after hitting three straight hoops culminating with a 3 to tie the game at 26.

* Farmar airballs a reverse layup attempt, gets his own board and barely catches iron on a 3 footer follow. That won't make his resume tape.

* Bynum is hit with his 3rd at 5:54, it's one of those nights for him.

* Ariza and Fish hit 3's to give us some separation at 32-26, but Lewis comes righ bakc with one on the other end to cut it to 32-29. Dare I say, en fuego?

* Pietrus picks up his 3rd at 2:57.

* Kobe hits a 3 for the biggest lead at 36-29, but (you guessed it) Lewis hits one of his own to make it 36-32.

* Another Lewis 3, his 4th, cuts it to 38-35. He has 18 in the quarter, the rest of the team has 2. Odom has to stay attached no matter what the team defensive principles are when this guy heats up, he's one of the game's great shooters.

* 40-35 at the half, with the 45 point quarter looking like an offensive explosion. Orlando did nto shoot a free throw in the quarter but still lead 8-7 in the game (+2 points) and have a 5-4 edge in made 3's (+3). They also have 11 turnovers, a 26-18 rebounding advantage mitigates that some but the Lakers' 13-4 edge in points off TO's is huge. Also notable is the Lakers' 2-0 edge in fast break points, as Orlando has yet to score on the break all series (LA only has 6 points themselves).

Third quarter:
* The Earvins get their first fast break points of the series, an Alston layup, to cut it to 42-41 as LA has come out a little flat.

* Bynum hit with his 4th at 8:59, ticky tack.

* Howard gets his first dunk of the series to cut it to 52-51 with 5 1/2 minutes to go.

* Ariza got caught on Howard on a switch but would not let them get the post entry to him, moving around him for a nice steal leading to a fast break dunk for Kobe; 54-51.

* Turkoglu hits a 3 to tie it to 54.

* And another one, to give them a 59-56 lead. He has 12 in the quarter.

* Now Odom picks up his 3rd at 1:58, our bigs are going to have to play smart from here on out.

* Kobe has 10 in the quarter and the Lakers have a 60-59 lead.

* Fish hits a 3 to tie it back up at 63.

* After Hedo made a jumper in the lane to give them a 65-63 lead, Kobe seemed to not be fully aware of the clock. He got a shot off, but it was rushed and it seemed like he advanced the ball with little urgency then realized he was almost out of time and made the quick pullup move.

A 30-23 quarter for Orlando, easily their best of the series, gives them the 65-63 lead heading to a huge 4th. They have a 16-11 advantage in free throws (+4 points) and a 7-5 edge in 3's (+6).

Fourth quarter:
* Nelson misses two FT to keep it 65-63, hope they keep playing him!

* Odom picks up his 4th at 10:47, not much room for error now on the front line.

* Lamar hits a shot to give us a 67-66 lead, then another to give us a 69-68 lead, and is 8/9 for the game after having scored out last three buckets. The phrase "Grown ass man" comes to mind.

* Great defensive sequence by Drew, as he stops pick and roll penetration in its tracks then recovers back to intimidate Gortat into missing a layup; 71-68.

* But now Bynum picks up his 5th at 8:49, and they are already in the penalty, not good on any front. The Lakers have been whistled for 21 fouls to their 14, and they have yet to really intentionally foul Howard tonight since they are doubling more; this is pretty much just anti-home court advantage. 73-72 Lakers.

* Kobe commits his 5th turnover and Lewis hits a 3 to give them a 77-75 lead.

* Then Kobe turns it over again, his 6th, but makes up for it by getting a steal and throwing a lead pass to Fish for a layup to tie it back up at 77.

* Odom picks up his 5th foul with 5:05 to go. Gotta leave him in and hope for the best, he's too important to remove late in a close game. Howard hits the 2 FT to give them an 81-79 lead.

* Kobe draws the 5th on Pietrus at 3:35, and he misses the front end of the pair to cut it to 81-80 Orlando.

* Pietrus fouls out, and this time Kobe makes then both; 82-81.

* Lamar with a nice strip of Howard to give Fish possession, they have had a ton of success poking at the ball in his uncertain hands tonight.

* Hedo with a hard, and I do mean hard (but clean) foul on Kobe, casuign him to hurt his hip a bit, but he drills the FT o make it 84-81 with 2:40 to play.

* Redick makes an open corner 3 to tie it at 84 with 2:21 to go.

* Kobe misses a baseline runner, quality shot but just didn't go down.

* Lewis escapes a double and hits a banker to give them the 86-84 lead with 1:33 to go.

* Kobe replies with a banker of his own to tie it back up at 86, 1:11 to play.

* With the shot clock running down, Turkoglu makes an impossible step left and back shot with his foot on the line to put them up 88-86 with 47.7 to play. Better to be lucky than good sometimes, that one reminds me of the 3 that Kobe hit over JR Smith late in Game 3 in Denver.

* Fish is run off a shot but makes a nice drive and dish that Howard makes a great reaction to deflect, but it goes right to Pau anyway for a layin. 88-88 with 33.5 to go, and we will get the ball back no matter what happens.

* LA shuts down all of their offensive options, forcing Lee to take a circuitous drive to the lane for an off-balance and contested flip at the basket, which me misses. Lamar grabs the board to set up a chance for the Lakers to win the game.

* Kobe is blocked from behind by Hedo, and probably would have been blocked in front by Howard otherwise. Yes, replays showed he was hit by Lewis, but you're not going to get that call at the end of the game. This was just a horrible decision by Kobe, passing up open shooters all around to take what is maybe a 20% shot, if that, against a triple team. And that's why Kobe, while one of the game's great 4th quarter players, is also one of the worst players in the league on last shots.

Replay shows that there is 0.6 on the clock, time for Orlando to set up some quick catch and shoot.

* Brilliant D by the Lakers, shutting off the Howard lob and their two best perimeter options. Better offensive play set up by Van Gundy, as number 4 option (of 4, since inbounder Hedo did not have time to get it back and shoot) Lee comes free off a Lewis pick on Kobe to receive the lob from Turkeyglue and miss the layup. It's a bit too deep and too far left, but Pau's rotation off Howard is late enough that he didn't bother it much, it pretty much just came down to Lee having to try to twist and reach back from under the backboard to try to make a very difficult and angled layup, which went long, barely catching the front iron. No fault in what Lee did there, that was one tough attempt, but if they lose the game, and especially the series, he will be seen as a goat of sorts.

Orlando has a 26-19 edge in FT (+4 points) and 9-5 from distance (+12). They are also outrebounding the Lakers by 12, but have committed 6 more turnovers.

* Two Orlando turnovers (Fish strip of Howard, Ariza strip off Turkoglu) sandwiched around a Kobe miss keep it tied until a Fish drive sets up an easy Pau opportunity and forces them to foul. He hits them, 90-88 with 3:37 to go.

* The Hedo-Howard screen roll works to perfection, Diwhgt slipping to the hole and getting the and-1 layup. He hit the FT to give them a 91-90 lead at 3:20.

* Ariza misses a 3, but Redick does as well to keep it a one point game.

* Kobe hits a tough little baseline fallaway to give the Lakers a 92-91 lead, 2:19 to play.

* Fish makes a brilliant play, stripping Redick on a drive for the steal, then pushing it hard all the way to draw the foul on a backpedaling Hedo at the rim. He hits them, 94-91, play of the game so far.

* Hedo misses at 1:31, get a score now and we can apply some pressure here.

* Kobe-Pau screen roll, Kobe forces Howard to make the choice to cut him off and shovels it to the cutting Pau for an and-1. Alston was late on the help, but it would have been hard for him to stop there anyway, that's just great offense. He hits the free throw and we have stretched it to 97-91 with 1:14 to go.

* Ariza fouled Hedo at 1:10 but that was one to give. We corwd the 3 point line, so Redick drives for a concession layup to cut it to 97-93 at 56.7.

* Kobe is stripped and it goes off his leg (or does it, replay says no but it doesn't matter now) for his 7th turnover at a very inopportune time. Well, I guess they're all inopportune, but you know what I mean. At any rate, that keeps them right in this game, critical mistake.

* Lewis misses a 3 and Howard gives a hard shove to Pau on the rebound, bullet dodged at 28.2. Pau hits them, 99-93 and we're in pretty good shape.

* They score in 2 seconds on a Lewis 3 from the left corner, keeping them alive at 99-96 with 26.6 to play. They will have to foul, that's not enough time if the Lakers fire off a shot just before the 24 second clock expires even if it misses, the rebound and timeout takes time. Need a solid inbound to a shooter here.

* We get the inbound to Fish, but they smartly do not foul him, waiting from the advance to Lamar near midcourt to take the foul. He has to hit one!

* Lamar this them both, and the Lakers apparently have hit 14 in a row. They lead 101-96 and Orlando is done unless we miss some FT.

* Redick misses a run back 3 in the left corner, then Lewis misses a heavily contested one on the left wing, Ariza secures the rebound and runs it out, 2-0 lead!

The history is that the Lakers are 38-1 when leading 2-0, playoff teams are 94% overall and Finals teams are 27-3 (90%).

What a game, 23 lead changes and 21 ties.

We actually ended up shooting 28 FT to their 17 (+4 points), but the last 4 (all made) were off of intentional fouls so they still really got the advantage, if not in as one-sided of a fashion as Game 1.

They ended up 10/30 from 3 to our 5/15 (+15 points), as for the second straight game neither team shot 3's particularly well or poorly, just average.

The Lakers outshot them 46%-42%, as their shooting woes mostly disappeared.

They turned the ball over 20 times to our 12, a huge factor in the game. Orlando has been a big turnover team the last two years, albeit better lately, but this is not out of character for them.

They outrebounded us 44-35, reversing a problem in the first game and one we now must address.

The Lakers continued to shut down their transition game, with a 6-2 edge in fast break points that is now 10-2 for the series. Orlando will doubtless try everything they can to start pushing the ball at home.

The Lakers won the bench battle 23-17, despite only Lamar playing very much.

I cannot overstate the importance of that game. Win it and they have the near impossible task of beating the Lakers 4 times in 5 games. Lose it and you likely come back home down 3-2 next week. Still lots of work to do, but after this one you can just start to taste it a little bit.

Now Orlando is faced with having to win the next two at home, and really needing to sweep all three. Having to win only one of three on the road is a great situation, but this is the time to go for the jugular. Make any win they might get a war, put pressure on them, two wins to the promised land here.

If I can taste it, I know they can.

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