June 05, 2009
A startlingly good batch of execution on both ends has the Los Angeles Lakers up one game to nil in 2009's version of the NBA Finals, as Kobe Bryant's(notes) crew trampled all over the Orlando Magic by a 100-75 score.
The team's play through the second and third quarters offensively put the game away, but it was the all-out defensive effort that downed the Orlando Magic. Orlando was completely taken out of its screen-and-roll attack, and had little room to make adjustments with the Lakers pouring in points on the other end.
Iffy offensive decisions also factored in Orlando's decline, as well. The team didn't exactly seemed swept up by the Finals stage, we've seen their offense go into the tank like this plenty of times in 2008-09, and the team said as much following the contest. But the huge gobs of missed shots, both inside and out, in the first half did them in. By the time the final 24 rolled around, the Laker defense had stiffened, and the Magic didn't have a chance.
Beyond that, Kobe Bryant had himself a pretty good game. Scary, even. A jaw-dropping, series-shifting statement game that included 40 points and loads of fantastic decisions on both ends of the court.
Bryant was absolutely dominant, helping to chase the Magic out of their screen and roll on defense, while running the Laker offense on the other end (Derek Fisher(notes) was almost an afterthought, more so that usual), usually finding himself with the ball in his hands toward the end of the possession with plenty of space and a helpless defender in his field of vision.
Not a hapless one, mind you. Mickael Pietrus(notes) and Courtney Lee(notes) both worked hard in the face of Kobe's 40; but nobody could stop Bryant on a night like this. His focus, his smarts, his touch, his talent ... it was all on display. And what a display.
We'll have more later on Friday morning, Behind the Box Score-style, regarding the Lakers one-sided win.