Lakers Dominate Magic 100-75 in Game 1

June 5, 2009

The Los Angeles Lakers crushed the Orlando Magic 100-75 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Los Angles on Thursday night. Kobe Bryant led the way with 40 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. The game was close for the first 18 minutes, before the Lakers took control and never looked back.


Orlando's "Superman" Dwight Howard struggled mightily against the combined defensive efforts of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom. Although he grabbed 15 rebounds, he finished with a mere 12 points and made 1 of 6 field goal attempts. When he got in close the Lakers were content to foul him . . . hard. Howard made 10 of 16 free throws, but the constant trips to line, as opposed to the numerous dunks he is used to getting, seemed to break his rhythm all night.

The Lakers' Andrew Bynum provided an early spark by scoring 8 points in the first half before sitting on the bench with 3 fouls. His physical toughness seemed to frustrate Howard and his confidence seemed to be back.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of Howard's game was his inability to consistently attack the Laker defense. Can you imagine a game where a prime Shaquille O'Neal, a notoriously poor free throw shooter, would only attempt 6 field goals? Howard clearly needs to show more offensively if the Magic are to come back in this series.

The Magic certainly didn't help Howard by knocking down their shots from the perimeter. Orlando shot under 30% from the floor and hit only 8 of 23 three-pointers. While the Lakers did play solid perimeter defense, Orlando also missed many wide open looks. Put simply, nobody on the team shot well.


From the middle of the second quarter, with the Lakers trailing the Magic 33-28, through the end of the third quarter, the Lakers outscored the Magic 54 to 25. During that decisive time frame Kobe Bryant scored 30 of his 40 points. In the third quarter Bryant was simply unstoppable and he called for the ball on nearly every play.

More than anything it was Bryant's will that permeated this game. While some may roll their eyes at the scowling, glaring, and downright hostile disposition Kobe has been wearing the past week, believing it is just another act, there is no doubt Bryant has stepped up his intensity.

He could be seen yelling at teammates throughout the game and admitted in his terse post game press conference that he has been "grouchy." Along those lines he dismissed the significance of Game 1 and stated his team should simply "forget about it" if they wanted to keep winning.

Most importantly, Bryant's ferocious demeanor has actually impacted the way he and his teammates played in Game 1. Last year Bryant was effectively shut down by the Celtics and perhaps he more than anyone else knows the truth: If he plays that way again, there is no way the Lakers win the championship.

Nobody on the Magic is truly capable of slowing Bryant down. One should expect big numbers throughout the series from him unless the Magic make serious defensive adjustments. But remember that other than Howard, this is a relatively soft defensive unit, and they do not possess the type of players like Artest, Battier, Paul Pierce, or Tayshaun Prince to really cause Kobe problems on the perimeter. Mickael Pietrus is too small and not physical enough to handle Kobe.

Although it will risk allowing players like Gasol and Odom to get going, the Magic may soon have no choice but to throw multiple players at Bryant to get the ball out of his hands. Then, the Lakers will have to prove how much they have improved from last year's Finals. But again, this team does not have the team defensive skills that last year's Celtics had.

By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for

1 comment:

  1. yesterday kobe put an end to the "great debate", that really only was disputed by cavs fans and corporate marketing campaigns. he is simply the most skilled man in the game today, and its not even close.


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