June 12, 2009
Scanning the blogs and beats following the Lakers' 99-91 OT win over the Magic in Game 4 of the Finals ...
Forum Blue and Gold: "This game is proof as to why we keep the faith in our players. This game is proof as to why we don’t bury our own guys; we don’t throw our own guys under the bus. Because our faith is rewarded. Everyone under the sun was calling for Phil to bench Fisher and play more Shannon Brown(notes) (myself included). Tell me, does anyone honestly believe that anyone outside of Bryant could have made those two shots other than Fisher? Through all his struggles, all the 1-8, 1-7 shooting games, our coaching staff kept the faith in Fisher. Even when he was getting crushed by Deron Williams(notes), Aaron Brooks(notes), Chauncey Billups(notes), and Rafer Alston(notes), the coaching still kept calling his number, sending him in during crunch time, sending him to battle when the games were on the line. And for their faith, they were rewarded with the most crucial victory of the season, delivered to us by one and only Derek Fisher(notes). This is the stuff of legends; the stuff that only becomes more endearing when you’ve lived through his struggles as we all have."
Orlando Magic Daily: "... forget everything you’ve heard about the home team having the advantage going into the extra overtime. The Magic had no momentum tonight. It was dead. All 18,000-plus were stunned and silent. The offense went motionless as three players stood and watched Hedo Turkoglu(notes) try to force the issue on pick-and-rolls. It wasn’t there. The Magic should’ve gone to something else — Dwight in the post, Rashard in isolation, Pietrus working through off-the-ball screens … anything. It’s too bad, because it could’ve gone down as a historic performance from Dwight Howard(notes). No big man has ever reached a triple-double in points, rebounds and blocks in NBA Finals history, and Howard was one block away from that feat tonight. Think about it — Kareem, Hakeem, Shaq, Wilt, Russell, Duncan, Robinson — none of those guys blocked as many shots as Dwight did tonight."
Silver Screen and Roll: "... congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers, 2009 NBA Champions!!! I know it's one game premature, but c'mon, this thing is O-V-E-R. The proof is in the pudding. If you're a stat junkie consider this: the Lakers have three chances to win just one game, two of which are at home. Now, considering that we have the second best home record in the league, have yet to lose two games in a row in these playoffs, and have yet to lose three games in a row since Pau joined us last year (did I mention that he is underrated?). I'd say that those are pretty good odds. For those of you who ascribe to more of a Zen Master mind-game philosophy, last night's win was like telling Orlando that not even their own mamas love them. It was the soul-crusher, the dagger to the heart, the realization that despite 5+ chances to be up 3-1 instead of down, they just can't close the Lakers out."
Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times: "Typical Fish. At the end of the most indelible game of his enduring Lakers career, Derek Fisher disappeared. He was swallowed by the long limbs of Lamar Odom(notes), the long embrace of Andrew Bynum(notes), the long hair of Sasha Vujacic(notes). His bald head was hidden in somebody's warmup jacket. His short arms were wrapped in somebody's giant ones. After both tying and winning a game that will propel his team to an NBA championship, he was immediately enveloped not by camera lights but teammates, lost not in glamour but love, the most unassuming Laker never even having a chance to pump a fist. Typical Fish. Don't worry, after what happened Thursday night in front of a crowd that was stunned into silence, you'll see him again. After his two jaw-flooring three-pointers led the Lakers to a 99-91 overtime victory against the Orlando Magic in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, you'll now officially be seeing him forever."
Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel: "They've taken their fans on a wild, wondrous journey since October and defied the kind of odds this postseason that gets you in Ripley's and makes Vegas blush. The Orlando Magic now will have to top their own comeback act, dipping deep into the well of improbability to drink in a championship. After falling to the Los Angeles Lakers 99-91 in a bitter overtime loss on Thursday night at Amway Arena, the Magic trail 3-1 in the NBA Finals. The Magic not only must buck history heading into Game 5 on Sunday — no team has ever rebounded from this deficit in the Finals to win the title — but they must get past perhaps an equally formidable obstacle. Kobe."
TrueHoop: "Stan Van Gundy brushed off the notion that Finals experience means much of anything, pointing out that basketball is a simple game and every player on the court has the benefit of having played thousands of games. The rules don't change in the Finals. It's an enticing point. But consider the position of the Lakers here. With nothing more than one more tremendous effort, they can probably win the title they have craved for more than a half-decade on Sunday. Or, they can play with fire, as they did in 2000, and lose to a devil-may-care opponent, and roll the dice in Games 6 and 7. I don't know what's going to happen in Game 5 — but with memories of 2000's Game 5 vivid in the memories of Phil Jackson, Brian Shaw, Kobe Bryant(notes), Derek Fisher, Mitch Kupchak and others in the Laker organization, I'd be shocked if the Lakers don't arrive 100% motivated on Sunday. Call it experience, professionalism, or anything else you want ... it tends to work."
Lakers Blog: "... it's hard to figure out exactly how the Lakers won this game Fair statement on his part. To say the least, this was a goony bird, haywire barn burner that borderline defines description. Down by a dozen at the half, the Lakers appeared anything but a team on the verge of pulling out one stunning comeback for the ages. 33% shooting from the field. Foul trouble plaguing the Lakers (most notably, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom). Dwight Howard dominating to the tune of five blocks and fourteen boards, the latter figure matching the Lakers' entire tally. In a nutshell, not a damn thing gone right. Packing it in would have been easy. Playing hard-but-unfocused would have been somewhat more commendable, if not necessarily more productive. Instead, the Lakers weathered one ugly storm and came out smiling for their troubles. To attempt an explanation, I think one word might sum the outcome up: perseverance."
Empty The Bench: "Kobe is strong as hell. In the first half, he ripped the ball out of Howard’s hands, prompting a foul from a pissed-off Superman. Then he completely pulls Howard to the floor with 11.1 seconds left so that he can’t get an open dunk. This feat of strength turns out to be a game winner, as Howard klunks both free throws, keeping the Lakers within one basket."
Talk Hoops: "The Magic lost this game because they were their own worst enemy. The constantly made poor decisions that led to turnovers. They allowed the Lakers to turn those poor passes/decisions into easy points The Magic were successful in getting the Lakers bigs into foul trouble (There was a D.J. Mbenga(notes) sighting for four minutes), but they didn't capitalize on their constant trips to the foul line. Howard had those two big misses at the end of the game, but those free throws would have been moot if not for his other six misses at the line or Hedo Turkoglu's five missed free throws. Teams that shoot this poorly from the line and turn the ball over this often are just asking to lose close games."
Basketball-Reference.com Blog: "... this was the third game of the series in which [the Magic] struggled to consistently score. With an offensive rating of 95.8 in Game 4, they are now averaging just 101.6 pts/100 poss on the series, and 94.1 if you toss out the aberrant hot streak of Game 3. Howard struggled for the 3rd time in 4 games, Lee continued his abysmal performance (he was so bad he got yanked with 8 minutes left in the 3rd and never saw the floor again), and even Rashard Lewis(notes), heretofore the Magic’s standby offensive dynamo when all else was going wrong, couldn’t really get his shot and misfired in the rare cases he did. And did you see the botched side-out plays at the end of regulation? If I’m a Magic fan, I’m really worried about the Lakers’ proven ability to clamp down on Orlando’s offense during this series. And if you need to shoot 63% in order to win, I’m afraid that’s a pretty unrealistic expectation game in and game out."
The Puns Are Starting To Bore Me: "It's so funny as a fan how you can go from complete euphoria and the highest high to the lowest low. This is a game once the Lakers win the title that Lakers fans will remember for the rest of their lives. Derek Fisher coming through in the clutch again and getting his team within inches of a title. As a Magic fan you will never forget where you were for Game 4 as you slowly watched any real chance at the title fly out the window with Dwight's missed free throws and again Fisher's heroics. Even if this is over on Sunday the big picture tells me this team was not supposed to be in the Finals and will grow tremendously from this experience. The other part of me wonders if this team has three more fights in them to pull of the impossible. Logic says no but my heart so badly wants to say yes."
Bonus video: Check out the highlight of Game 4. Yoink!