Kobe’s Allied Forces Fight the Good Fight All the Way, and Lay it on the Line to turn Orlando’s powerful Superman into an Ordinary Man in 100-75 Triumph
But HOLD ON — Even though L.A. Tore the Roof Off tonight, and the Writing is on the Wall, it’s Just a Game, and Orlando will Never Surrender until the Lights Go Down.
Kobe Bryant had nothing to prove… Not to anyone who actually knows Basketball. Sure, he has his detractors who think he is a selfish player, but the rest of the World realizes that he DOES try to involve his teammates, he IS the best player in the League, and, he is one of the Top 10 players in History.
Despite the widespread support, Kobe played in Game 1 of the NBA Finals like he DID have something to prove. His 8 Rebounds and 8 Assists are indicators of his increased activity and heightened court awareness, and his 18 3rd quarter Points sparked him to a Finals Career High 40 Points.
Kobe was simply unstoppable, on a night when he didn’t even need to be. Kobe’s supporting cast rose to the occasion, outplaying and outhustling the Magic. The two Laker-Bruins did NOT make the highlight reel or contribute a lot of points, but they gave 37 combined minutes of solid play and good defense. Andrew Bynum started the game on fire, scoring three times as many field goals in the first few minutes as Dwight “Superman” Howard did all game long. When Bynum got into foul trouble, Pau Gasol stepped up, and HE took control of the paint. Lamar Odom, who came in for Bynum, also played hard and contributed, continuing his unexpected string of high-quality performances (much to HIS many detractors’ secret, and unloyal-to- the-Lakers, chagrin).
Even Derek Fisher was effective early, as the Lakers slowly put it all together. The Magic won the 1st quarter 24-22, but then the Lakers gelled, and a 13-1 run gave them control which they never relinquished. Luke Walton was a big factor as the Lakers ran away with the game. They led at the half by 10, and, in the 3rd, when Kobe exploded for 18, they left the Magic in the (magic) dust.
The Laker defense was the key, contesting the vaunted Orlando three-point shooters behind the arc, and clogging up the middle with long wingspans. They held the Magic to under 30% shooting, and held Dwight Howard, who was coming off his own 40-point playoff exhibition of dominance, to ONE-OF-SIX shooting from the floor. Howard hit 10 Free Throws to give him a total of 12 Points, and he grabbed 15 Rebounds, but it was the most uninspiring Double-double you’ll ever see. It was less Dwight Howard, and more Curly Howard. If he doesn’t improve in Game 2, instead of Superman, his new nickname will be Clark Kent, and if he is still M.I.A. in Game 3, he becomes Jimmy Olson, and if they get swept, Lois Lane.
After the game, Howard lamented the Magic’s lack of effort and intensity. How could they not be fired up for their first Finals in 14 years? Apparently, LeBron and the Cavs and the Celtics took a lot out of Orlando. Definite studs Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis went a combined 5-for-21, as Orlando was just NOT the same impressive team that won the East.
Orlando is bound to play much better on Sunday in Game 2, and all they need is a split of the first two games. If they get a split, then they steal Home Court Advantage, and can win the whole enchilada without returning to L.A. Kobe promised to forget about Game 1 in a hurry, and come out in Game 2 with the exact same tenacity, but recent history tells us otherwise. With Orlando feeling a little desperation, and with the Lakers feeling exceptionally pleased with themselves, odds are that the Magic will have a real shot at evening the Series. Just IGNORE all the idiots that you meet today who suggest you stick a fork in Orlando. They probably have flags on their cars, and they don’t realize that a three-point shooting team will have off nights.
One thing that will help Orlando is the early return of their leading scorer Jameer Nelson. In a double-whammy for Laker fans, his unanticipated return puts former Laker Tyronn Lue on Orlando’s inactive list, but you obviously can’t blame them. Nelson came off the bench in Game 1, and got 2 Assists and 2 Points in his first minute. He continued to be active (considering the deficit) throughout the game, and showed little sign of lingering injury. Nelson will be a huge factor as the Series progresses, and according to the ABC announcer, that actually bodes well for Jordan Farmar. Supposedly, Nelson is a good match-up for Farmar, so as Nelson’s minutes increase, so could Farmar’s.
Hopefully, the announcer is right, and my instincts are wrong: I was thinking that an All-Star-caliber Guard like Nelson might be quicker to expose Farmar’s weaknesses, forcing Phil Jackson to go with the more experienced Fisher, or even the longer Shannon Brown. But Nelson or not, if Farmar (again) plays 13 minutes in Game 2 without scoring and without dishing out more than 1 Assist (to his 1 Turnover), Jackson will probably go with the other guys anyway. But Farmar wasn’t alone: Trevor Ariza had possibly his worst game Offensively in a long time, hitting one three-pointer for his only tally of the night.
Ariza will probably get his chance to shine in Game 2, when his defender will likely leave him to go double-team Kobe a lot more often than he did in Game 1. In Game 1, the most valuable Bruin on Offense was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (fresh off his appearance on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien). Kareem’s protege Bynum was showing all sorts of aggressiveness, and MOVES, on the Offensive end. If he can stay out of foul trouble, Orlando is in trouble.
And speaking of Kareem and talk shows… On Jimmy Kimmel’s Thursday night special, trojan honk Will Ferrell was talking about being a long-time Laker fan, and ironically, when recounting his beloved Laker memories, the very first two names he mentioned were Bruins: Jamaal Wilkes and Abdul-Jabbar. He probably doesn’t even know. “Land of the Lost,” indeed.