Orlando Game 4 thoughts
That one was an all timer, in the running with the Robert Horry game against Sacramento in 2002 and the Derek Fisher "0.4" game in San Antonio in 2004 for Lakers game of the decade, and surely in the top 5 overall. Fisher cements his status as one of the greatest big shot makers in the history of this game, an Horry for a new generation as it were.
Fisher's heroics paper over what would have been the game most blatantly decided by officiating since...well, only Game 2 of last year's FInals, but the 17-0 fourth quarter free throw advantage for Orlando and the 11-2 foul disparity is a black eye for a league that does not need them in the wake of the Donaghy scandal. David Stern owes Fisher a huge debt of gratitude for forcing that issue into the background instead of being the main topic of conversation for two off days as it would have been otherwise.
* The Lakers are 6-0 after a loss in these playoffs.
* They are leaving Lee and he is chucking, taking 4 three pointers in the first 3 minutes. He only makes one, vindicating the Lakers strategy as they take the early 4-3 lead.
* Howard gets two offensive boards on one possession before drawing a foul, looks like he's beasting it tonight. He splits the FT for a 4-4 tie.
* Lee picks up his second early foul, falling for Kobe's bait at 8:54. Early run for Pietrus.
* Bynum draws his 2nd at 8:42, helping as Hedo converts the and-one to make it 7-6 Orlando.
* Lamar steals a rebound from Howard and puts it back, 8-7 LA.
* After a Kobeball miss, he comes right back for an and-1 from the right baseline to cut Orlando's early lead to 12-11.
* Howard rejects his third shot in 7 1/2 minutes. Did I mention he's beasting it tonight?
* Pau picks up his 2nd at 3:44, the Bennett Salvatore Effect fully in, umm, effect. Howard misses them both to keep it 16-13 Orlando but we are going to have ot buy some time with Mbenga here, dangerous.
* Still 16-13, and the Lakers are 5/17 while Orlando is 6/11 for 54%.
* Good lord, now Odom has his 2nd at 2:48. Add an Ariza tech for bouncing the ball in frustration while sitting on the floor and Orlando is able to stretch it to 20-15 led by Howard's 11 rebounds (!). Not much choice but to bring Luke in at the 4 here, playing Mbenga and Powell together is just too much of an offensive hit.
* Pietrus picks up his 2nd at 1:42, but I'm sure they are thrilled to trade their two SG's for our entire front line.
* Turkeyglue is 3/3 for 10 points as they lead 22-17.
* And Alston is 4/5 for 9 as it's 24-18.
* 24-20 Orlando at the end of 1. Kobe has 13 on 4/7, having to take too much offense because of the bigs' foul trouble but making lemonade of it.
Orlando has a 10-7 FT advantage, but has failed to parlay it into any net points.
They are +6 on made 3's with their 2 makes to LA's 0.
Orlando is shooting 8/16, LA 7/20, but the Earvins have turned it over 6 times to LA's 1 to keep it close.
* Sasha misses back to back 3's to keep us from cutting into a lead that is now 26-20. Sigh.
* Farmar is playing some awful D so far. The problem is, where Fish funnels guys into help and into their cold zones, Jordan funnels them into open spaces or open lanes to the basket. I really like the kid and hope he learns some defensive technique at some point, that will determine whether he's a solid rotation guy and perhaps starter or a guy who is always on the fringe of rotations.
* The Lakers are 0/6 from distance and trail 30-24.
* Hedo has 12 on 4/4 shooting as the lead swells to 32-24.
* Orlando has a 14-10 edge in the paint in leading 34-26, frankly not that bad for us given how much our front line has had to sit so far.
* Lewis hits a 3 to make it 37-27, their first double digit lead of the series. It might be worse but for their 8-1 turnover "lead" giving us a 9-0 bump in points off.
* Odom picks up his 3rd at 5:53, and this one is entirely on him as he bites on a shot fake from Hedo. As if you would not want him to take the long deuce. He splits them, 38-29.
* Gortat slips to his second pick and roll dunk to make it 40-31. I'm going to go ahead and name him the greatest Polish player ever.
* Hedo now has 15 after his fast break layup makes it 42-31. Redick has been a spark with 3 points and 3 assists off the bench.
* Phil takes a rare "message" tech and they lead by a dozen at 43-31.
* Bynum picks up his 3rd foul at 3:52. Mark Landsberger and Jim Chones are seen dressing for possible second half duty.
* After 2 offensive rebounds on a possession, Howard now has 14 total with still 2:43 to play.
* Howard hits those sweeping hooks with both the left and right hands on back to back possessions to give them a 47-35 lead.
* Now he blocks a shot that turns into a jump ball, and wins the tap forward for a 2 on 1 runout fast break where Pietrus is fouled, poor floor balance by LA. He hits the pair and it's 49-37, and that's where the half ends.
Orlando has a 16-11 free throw advantage (+2 points).
LA is 1/10 from distance, helping Orlando to +6 points on 3-1 made 3's.
Orlando has a 47%-33% shooting edge and a 22-15 rebounding edge, overcoming their 11-3 in turnovers.
Kobe has cooled, with 16 on 5/12 shooting.
* Ariza with a steal and dunk to cut it to 51-41.
* Kobe nails a 3, 51-44.
* Trevor hits a 2 and then a 3 and it;s down to 54-49, we're applying pressure here.
* Hedo picks up his 4th foul at 7:11. He had 17 on 6/7 from the field and 5/6 from the line. Trevor splits the FT and has 8 in the quarter and it's 54-50.
* Now Trevor hits a 3 and it's a one point game, 54-53 on his 11 in the quarter.
* After abusing Gortat, Bynum hits a pair of FT to give us a 55-54 lead, our first since 8-7. It's an 18-5 quarter so far.
* Bynum picks up a phantom loose ball foul, his 4th, as he and Howard jump for a loose ball at 4:54.
* Orlando has 15 turnovers to the Lakers' 4 and trail 58-56.
* Fish pumps fakes and blows by Lewis on the baseline, causing Rashard to grab him around the waist to take the intentional foul and prevent the uncontested layup. Only problem is all three guys somehow miss it, giving us a side out instead.
* Lamar hits a 3 from the top of the key to give LA a 61-58 lead, but Redick erases it with his own from the left corner, 61-61.
* Ariza's transition layup gives him 13 for the quarter and puts LA back up 63-61.
* Kobe rips a rebound from the hands of Howard and then draws the foul, grown ass man play there. He hits the pair and is 8/8 for the game, 65-61.
* Kobe hits a tough leaner to make it 67-63 at the end of the 3. That's a 30-14 quarter, arguably our best of the playoffs.
Free throws are 18-18 but LA is +3 points as they have missed 7.
LA is up 5-4 on made 3's, another +3 points.
Orlando outscored Ariza 14-13 in the quarter. Unfortunately for them, other guys played too.
* Awful play by Lamar. We are in a position to get some separation, up 71-65 and them wiht the shot clock running down. And Turkoglu gets Lamar with a shot fake...again...from behind the arc. That's his 4th, and even in missing one Hedo cuts it to 71-67, huge play.
* Kobe just gives the ball away, but Pietrus blows the fast break layup, looked like he kind of wrong footed himself trying to jump.
* Howard picks up an offensive foul at 9:09, that's his 4th and it gives him 6 turnovers for the game.
* Now Lamar has his 5th, on an offensive rebounding attempt at 8:53. Crunch time minutes for Bynum coming.
* Howard with his 7th turnover. That's 6 FG and 6 TO for Orlando in the half, and the Lakers lead 71-67.
* Luke has 6 and the lead is 73-67. But Pietrus answers with a corner 3 to cut it to 73-70.
* Bynum picks up his 5th at 7:07, Pietrus splits them to cut it to 75-71. Then Pau gets his 4th, running through a screen off ball at 6:55. If this goes OT we may run out of (quality) frontcourt bodies.
* Pietrus with a transition and-one on a retreating Kobe, and the Magic take a 76-75 lead.
* Howard goaltends Pau's shot to put LA back up 77-76.
* Trevor picks up an off-ball foul on Hedo, which is 5 fouls on LA to 0 on Orlando in the quarter and will give them a 12-0 free throw advantage to go with that. Karma, he misses them both.
* Kobe hits a 2 in the lane, 79-76 with 4:48 to play.
* Nelson feeds Howard for a dunk, 79-78.
* Kobe is mugged with no call for the second time in three possessions.
* A breakdown leaves Kobe with an open 3 at the top of the key, but he misses it. Orlando dodged a bullet there.
* Hedo is fouled hard by Ariza at 3:24, making fouls and free throws 6-0 and 14-0 for the quarter. He splits them to tie it at 79.
* Fish has an alley oop to Pau set up but Howard makes a great read to block it at 3:09. Then he beats Pau down the court and throws up a layup which goes with a foul (7-0 fouls, 15-0 FT). He makes it, and suddenly Orlando is up 82-79 with 3:02 to go even though it seems like LA has been in control.
* Ariza hits a big from the top of the key as the shot clock winds down to tie it at 82 with 2:37 left, wow.
* Hedo comes right back with a step back 3 to put them back up 85-82 at 2:12.
* Howard rejects Pau at 1:52 for his 9th blocked shot, a new Finals record.
* Hedo pumps fakes and drives for a floater to put them up 87-82 with 1:34 to play, putting us in danger.
* Nelson wiht a blocking foul at 1:14, but no FT because it's their first foul. Not of the last two minutes (well, actually that too), but OF THE QUARTER!
* Kobe with an awful Kobeball 3 after dribbling in place beyond the arc for a while, they have the ball with a 5 point lead and 1:04 to go and we must get a stop here.
* We get it, as Lewis misses an off-balance banker and in transition Kobe slashes into the lane to draw Howard and dishes it back to Pau for the dunk, 87-84 with 31.9 to go.
* Howard gets loose in the lane and Kobe wraps him up with a good foul with 11.1 to play. 17-0 free throws for Orlando in the quarter, 8-1 fouls on LA.
More karma, as Howard misses them both to leave the door open as Ariza boards with 10.4 and the Lakers set up a play.
* The Lakers cross them up by taking it out in the backcourt. Kobe takes the inbounds and passes out of the double to Ariza, who hits Fish in space cross court. He advances as Nelson doesn't crowd him at the 3 point line, so Fish rises up and...NAILS IT! 87-87 with 4.6 in regulation!
That is a shot that, should we win this one, go down in Laker lore as one of the all time clutch shots. Hell, maybe even if we lose, I still see replays of Jerry West's halfcourter in a game we lost in 1970.
Fish has established himself as one of the greatest clutch shooters in Laker history (or NBA history, for that matter), a Big Shot Rob for a new generation.
* Turkeyglue takes a timeout on the inbounds, they will set up something else.
* After we pushed out the inbounds pass, Pietrus is forced into a tough long 2 from the left wing, falling away left as he throws it up, a prayer that is not answered. Overtime!
He missed Howard on Kobe underneath, where we would have had to foul and give him two to make one. And replay shows he also had an open Lewis after Pau hedged toward Howard.
Orlando shot what has to be an unprecedented 17 free throws to the Lakers 0 in the quarter, picking up 10 points despite shooting them poorly. That puts them up 35-18 for the game (+7 points). Made 3's are 6-6.
* Lewis hits what is just a silly 3, up against the shot clock off a pump fake and fallaway to the right from the left wing. Orlando draws first blood, 90-87.
* Kobe hits a deuce to cut it to 90-89, 4:13 to play.
* Howard misses a banker, and Kobe hits another one to give the Lakers a 92-91 lead at the 3:33 mark.
* Lewis has the ball stolen, but a Kobe miss at 2:49 keeps it a one point game.
* Howard misses a chippie, but Nelson tips out the offensive rebound. Lewis misses a banker, and Howard grabs a huge handful of Pau's jersey with no call, but no harm as Lamar secures the board.
* Kobe throws up an "airball" at 1:57 that replays show was the result of Pietrus making contact with both ball and wrist. The 8 on 5 power play continues unabated.
* Fish fouls Howard on the floor at 1:39, smart play to keep him from getting anything off there.
* Hedo misses a wild banker and Howard pushes Pau to the ground hard, foul on...Fisher?!? He did give a minor shove after Howard's throwdown, but what a bizarre call. That's Fisher's 5th, and Howard makes the second to tie the game at 91.
* Tervor misses a corkscrew in the lane but sneaks underneath to get his own rebound and it's knocked out of bounds as he throws it back out, sideout at 1:01.
* Kobe misses but draws enough attention that Nelson is left to fight Pau for the rebound, not surprisingly a battle he loses in taking a foul for the arm bar. 46.9 to go and sideout again.
* Kobe draws the double in the post and whips it out to an open Fish at the top of the key, and he drains it! 94-91 with 31.3 to play, and Fish has 12 after following up his 0/5 start from distance with two daggers that have swung this whole series at this point.
* Hedo panics and shoots a wild early 3 when they had plenty of time to get a good shot and did not have to shoot a 3 yet. He clanks it, and Lewis tips the rebound out...to the open floor and it's picked up by a streaking Pau to go in for the uncontested dunk! 96-91 with 21.6 to play and that may well be the play that earns us a championship. Lots of work left, but 3-1 with two home games is huge.
* Hedo misses another trey and Lamar tips the rebound away from HOward and to Fish. He advances it to an open Ariza on the wing, who holds briefly before finding Pau all alone underneath...slam dunk and-one on the hard foul by Pietrus at 3.4 seconds. And Pau is pissed, but fortunately only lets the Frenchman know that while he could kick his ass if he wanted to, he'll pass because this is the NBA Finals.
Certainly a dirty play, it looked like he undercut him live but replay shows it was a two handed blow/hard shove to the upper back or neck area. That can be very dangerous, luckily Pau was able to hold onto the rim or he could have fallen awkwardly or on something and been injured.
They call it F-1 and double techs, and that is very much a suspendable offense as they need to protect players in the air from non-basketball contact, but I hope they do not suspend him since this is the Finals (they subsequently did not). This is where it would be nice if they had a mechanism for suspending him for a game at the start of next season.
Pau hits 1 of the 2, and we inbound to end the game, 99-91 and now up 3-1 with a chance to close on Sunday. You can taste it now.
Orlando ended up with a 37-20 FT advantage (+6 points), 19-0 (+11) in the 4th and overtime before Pietrus' flagrant. One of the more one-sided runs of officiating you will ever see, it's to our credit that we played thorugh it and got the W.
LA went 8-7 in made 3's (+3 points).
Kobe went 11/31 and Lewis made only one field goal in regulation.
LA won the rebounding battle 39-31, and turned it over only 8 times to their 19 (LA 16-10 points off).
As expected, their shooting came way back to earth, 41.9%. We were just as bad at 41.8%.
So it's on to game 5, a chance to close and an extra day of rest. I like our chances, if we can survive what you would expect to be a frenzied start by them and be in the game as we get to the 4th you have be confident that we can bring it home.
Yes, there are two home games available as well, but the longer you let them stick around the more bad things can happen. I'll have my champagne on ice.