Thanks to a balanced offensive attack and blistering shooting from the field, the Orlando Magic toppled the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, 108-104, for their first-ever NBA Finals game win. Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard led Orlando with 21 points apiece, but the Magic also got double-figure production from Rafer Alston (20), Hedo Turkoglu (18), and Mickael Pietrus (18). Orlando withstood the shooting clinic Kobe Bryant held in the first quarter, in which he shot 7-of-10 for 17 points in the final 5:41 of the period. Bryant finished with a game-high 31 points, but was not much of a factor down the stretch.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
It's a good thing the Magic picked tonight to shoot out of their darn minds, because if they hadn't, L.A. would have continued to roll. I don't want to say that neither team played any defense tonight--the effort was there, to be sure--but the statistics appear to indicate that both teams enjoyed what amounted to a shootaround on offense. Orlando's game was a bit different, attempting a season-low 14 three-pointers. Orlando fed L.A. a steady diet of pick-and-rolls with Howard and Turkoglu, moved the ball well, and put the ball in the basket with apparent ease. If you're the Lakers, you just shake your head and say, "it's just one of those nights," when Pietrus hits a wild turnaround jumper from the baseline. Bryant gave the Magic the same head-shaking sensation with a number of his buckets tonight, although he executed with more fluidity and precision than Pietrus did.
There's something to be said for offensive balance, and over the last several seasons fans and media alike have maligned Bryant for his tendency to dominate the ball. I'm not sure how much of that is fair, but either way, he's sure to hear it tonight and in the coming days for taking 25 shots in this game. The two other Lakers with double-figure shot attempts--that'd be Trevor Ariza with 13 and Pau Gasol with 11--didn't combine to take as many shots as Kobe. And it's not like those guys were throwing bricks. Gasol was darn near unstoppable when permitted to touch the ball, making 9 of those shots for 23 points. He has a very soft touch around the rim, and succeeded in establishing deep post position against Lewis and Turkoglu tonight.
In contrast, the Magic's heavy-hitters were more balanced with their shot attempts. Howard had just 6, but his 16 free-throw attempts give a better indicator of his involvement with the offense. Pietrus took 11, Alston and Turkoglu took 12 each, and Lewis took 14. Everyone moved the ball, and it resulted in enough decent looks to make everyone happy.
Going forward, the Magic are probably concerned that they set an NBA record for field-goal shooting yet the game went down to the wire anyway. Then again, they shot 41.8% in Game 2 and still took the Lakers to overtime on the road. It all balances out, and the series will balance out at 2 games apiece this Thursday if the Magic continue to execute offensively, and make a better commitment to defense. Seriously, guys, 104 points allowed in 84 possessions? In the NBA Finals? I know it's against the Lakers, an elite offensive team, but that's just embarrassing.
Nothing embarrassing about winning an NBA Finals game. Just 3 more of those and Orlando will have earned its first-ever NBA championship. Funny how fortunes change after 48 hours, isn't it?