1. Kobe Bryant had a costly turnover. Kobe missed free throws. He missed threes. He was “bad” tonight. But let’s think about that for a moment. Kobe had 31 points and 8 assists. I don’t think he had one really clean look at the basket all night. Pretty amazing. Sure, he wasn’t the Closer, but he looked exhausted. Without his early first half outburst (which was absolutely nuts), this is a Disney World demolition. Plus, this is one of the few games where the opposition was hungrier than Kobe. They had to be. He will be back, and with a vengeance.
2. Phil Jackson made some mistakes tonight. Sasha Vujacic should be done for the season. Give Shannon Brown those three minutes and see what he can do. Sasha has been garbage for months. Also, go with Kobe earlier in the fourth. Exhausted or not, the Lakers got too far behind and he had to force things when he finally checked into the game. This following Phil overthinking the final regulation possession of Game Two and taking the ball out full court, resulting in Kobe getting a 1-on-4 look with no time. Wake up, Zen Master — this is a series now.
3. Post-up Lamar Odom. Especially when Pau Gasol is in the game and Rashard Lewis is forced to guard L.O. I’m convinced the Candyman could go for 30 posting up Shard. Shard might get 20 on L.O., but he also could foul out. He cannot handle Odom in the post. The coaches will see that when they watch tape.
4. Feed Pau Gasol. He was a monster tonight, but Trevor Ariza got more shots. Ariza has been playing well, but that should never happen. Gasol was dominate, went to the hole furiously on one drive, and even hit two clutch free throws. Feed the Spaniard!
5. Jordan Farmar needs more burn. Derek Fisher shot well, but Rafer Alston torched him. Farmar can keep up with Skip to my Lou, and his hustling and scoring will help the Lakers. Not to mention his confidence. Kid is unflappable.
6. Rashard Lewis does not miss clutch shots. EVER.
7. Mickael Pietrus is pretty damn good at defense. He’s not Euro Jordan — he’s Euro Dumars. I was super impressed by his play tonight. Honestly, he’s a rich man’s Ariza.
8. Bill Plaschke is overselling this Lakers “have been left with a bloody nose and splitting headache” thing. It’s good journalism, because it sells this as a competitive series, but I don’t think it will wind up being one.
9. You know, the silver lining in this loss is that the Magic now resemble a strong opponent, an actual contender. A sweep might have cheapened the Lakers’ title, well, according to Laker Haters and the pundits at least. Yes, the Lakers will still win this series. Guaranteed. Here’s why…
10. The Magic went into this game knowing they couldn’t fall into a series-ending 3-0 hole. They had their 6-0 adorable little singer belt out the National anthem. The arena was nutty. I didn’t eat my 3-0 pork ribs (very superstitious). The Magic shot an all-time Finals high 62%. Ariza led all Lakers with — GULP! — seven rebounds. The Lakers collapsed down the stretch. Nonetheless, if Kobe hits all nine of his free throws, which isn’t unfathomable, the Lakers win by one. No way the Magic ever play this well again. If the Lakers lose another game, it will be because they beat themselves. Lakers win this series 4-1.