Stealing a victory from out of the jaws of defeat, the Los Angeles Lakers stunned the Orlando Magic in overtime, 99-91 at Amway Arena. Derek Fisher drilled a three pointer with 4.6 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. He bettered that big shot by draining another trey at the top of the key in the overtime session to put the Lakers ahead, 94-91 to seal the deal. D-Fish, (12 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals), had an ear-to-ear grin as Orlando was forced to call time out and the Lakers bench mobbed their veteran leader. “It ranks right up there at the top,” he said. “You know, even greater than 0.4 because I feel like we’re as close as possible to what our end goal is.”
Fish’s game ending heroics should not have been possible based on how the Lakers played in the first half. Orlando blitzed then early and the Magic looked like the hungrier, deeper team. The Lakers managed a brief 8-7 lead after an Odom layup, but the Magic never looked back from that point on as they moved the ball fluidly on offense and denied the ball to the Lakers down inside. Dwight Howard, (16 points, 21 rebounds, 4 assists, 9 blocked shots), was a force in the middle, swatting away everything in sight. Andrew Bynum, (6 points, 2 rebounds, 5 fouls), again found himself on the bench early, picking up his second personal foul after less than 4 minutes into the game. Pau Gasol, (16 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal), picked up his second foul with 3:44 left in the period and Lamar Odom, (9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist), followed him with his second foul a minute later. The Lakers found themselves with all of their big men on the bench. Kobe Bryant, (32 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 1 blocked shot), put the team on his back and carried them, scoring 13 of their 20 points in the quarter. Unfortunately, he got little help from anyone else, and the Magic took a 24-20 lead after one.
Orlando came out swinging in the 2nd period behind Jameer Nelson, (2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists), J.J. Redick, (6 points, 3 assists), and Hedo Turkoglu, (25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal). And when Rashard Lewis, (6 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals), hit a three pointer, the Magic found themselves with a 37-27 lead. The Lakers appeared out of sorts and were in a constant dialogue with the referees. Pau Gasol scored on a 9-foot hook shot in the lane to pull the Lakers within 8 points, but Odom picked up his third foul with 5:52 left in the quarter. Bynum re-entered the game for Odom and scored on a hook shot in the key, but the Magic increased their lead to 43-31 behind a Marcin Gortat, (4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 blocked shot), jam off a pretty feed from Redick, a Turkoglu layup and a technical foul free throw by Redick assessed to Phil Jackson. A Gasol free throw and a 26-foot trey by Kobe narrowed the lead back down to 43-35, but the Magic used a 6-2 run to end the quarter to give them their largest lead of the series at 12 points, 49-37. The Magic fans rose in unison as the horn sounded and the Lakers limped off the court as they continued to jaw with the officials.
Fisher opened the 3rd quarter with a 21-foot jumper, but Howard countered with a thunderous slam to give Orlando a 51-39 lead. But the Magic went ice cold and the Lakers capitalized from that point forward. Trevor Ariza, (16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals), picked off an errant pass from Howard and rode it in for a dunk. Kobe splashed a three pointer followed by an Ariza 10-footer to make it 52-46. Turkoglu connected on a 17-footer, but Ariza dropped a pair of treys and converted 1-2 free throws to bring the Lakers within 54-53. Bynum’s free throws at the 5:58 mark, gave the Lakers their first lead since early in the 1st quarter at 55-54. After Rafer Alston, (11 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal), hit a basket, Bynum got loose for a 11-footer in the paint to regain the lead. But Bynum would pick up another foul on the ensuing play and had to head back to the bench. Odom drained a three pointer to give the Lakers a 61-58 lead, but Redick answered with a trey of his own to knot the score again. The Lakers ended the quarter with a 6-2 run to lead after three, 67-63.
Lamar scored on the Lakers first possession to give them a 6 point cushion, but he picked up his 4th and 5th fouls shortly thereafter. Turkoglu, fouled on a three point attempt, converted only 1-3 free throws and the Lakers clung to their lead after Luke Walton, (6 points, 2 rebounds), scored on a post-up move on Nelson. Mikael Pietrus, (15 points, 2 rebounds), hit a three pointer to cut the lead in half, 73-70. Kobe followed with a 21-footer, but free throws by Pietrus, Howard, then a Pietrus fast break layup and one, gave the lead back to Orlando, 76-75 with 5:37 left in the contest. A Gasol 6-footer and a pull up by Kobe gave the lead back to the Lakers, but Howard countered with another monster jam to bring them back within a point, 79-78. Turkoglu would tie up the score on 1-2 free throws, then Orlando took the lead on a beautiful spin move by Howard plus the foul. Howard’s free throw gave Orlando a 82-79 lead with just over 3-minutes to play. Ariza hit a big three from 28-feet with the shot clock running out, but Turkoglu responded with a fall away 25-footer with 2:11 left in the game. Howard blocked a left handed hook shot by Gasol and the Magic raced down the court to set up their offense. The Magic whipped the ball around the perimeter, and Turkoglu was able to fend off Ariza with his off hand and lofted a 11-foot runner to give Orlando a commanding 87-82 lead. The Lakers called time out and the Magic fans were delirious at the thought to tying up the series at 2 games apiece.
But the celebration didn’t last long as Gasol scored on an easy dunk and Howard was fouled hard by Kobe at the other end. Howard shanked both free throws and the Lakers called another time out to set up the final play with :11 seconds left in regulation. The Magic trapped Kobe in the backcourt and he was forced to pass ahead to Ariza. Ariza then found Fisher alone on the opposite side of the court and quickly fired the ball to him. Fish then dribbled up court, apparently waiting for either Kobe or Ariza to find their spots on the wing, but Nelson continued to back-peddle leaving Fisher wide open for his game tying three pointer. Orlando had one last shot in regulation, but no one wanted the ball. Pietrus found himself with the ball in his hands and all of his teammates running away from him. He was forced to take a hurried jumper that never had a chance of going in, and the Lakers saw new light with a 5-minute extra period.
Lewis nailed his second three pointer of the night for his total output of 6 points to give the Magic a 90-87 lead. But Kobe responded with a pair of calculated midrange jumpers to give the Lakers the lead at 91-90. Either good defense or poor officiating dominated the next 2 minutes as neither team could score. Howard’s 1-2 free throws with 1:27 left tied the game at 91-91. But that would be the last time that Orlando would register a point on the scoreboard. Kobe dribbled down into the low post, allowed the double team to come to him, and passed out to the wide open D-Fish, who splashed the 27-footer and ripped the hearts out of the Magic in one fell swoop. Orlando called time out while the Lakers celebrated around Fish. Turkoglu got off an ugly three point attempt, and the ball got batted out to midcourt where Gasol picked it up in stride and rushed in for a uncontested slam dunk. Turkoglu missed another trey attempt and the Lakers played “keep-away” as they passed the ball upcourt. Fisher found Gasol all alone under the basket, and he calmly dropped in another dunk as Pietrus came rushing from behind with a two-handed shove into Gasol’s back. Both players jawed at one another and picked up technical fouls while Pietrus was also assessed a flagrant 1 foul. Pau’s 1-2 free throws provided the final margin of victory at 99-91.
The Magic lost the game at the free throw line, shooting a horrible 22-37 for 59.5%. The Lakers converted 15-20 for 75% and only lost on the boards, 41-39. The Lakers forced the Magic into 17 turnovers (7 by Howard), to only 7 of their own. Lewis’ poor shooting night (2-10), coupled with Howard’s poor showing at the line (6-14), allowed the Lakers to hang around. Trevor’s big 3rd quarter (13 points), helped the Lakers in their 18-5 run to regain momentum after being down by 12-points at halftime. But it was the oldest guy on the court that was the hero of the game. While Fisher was cold for three quarters, (0-5 from behind the arc), he was diving for loose balls, taking hard fouls on Howard to prevent easy dunks, and playing good defense on both Alston and Nelson. His smile said it all… not only were his teammates happy for him, he was happy for himself as well.
dEDGE Post Scriptum
D-Fish. Enough said.