The answer should be no. Not yet, at least. Although Lakers fans will be disappointed to put the brooms back into their closets (no team in history has come back from 3-0 down), they shouldn’t be too worried just yet.
The Magic had big nights from each of their big players. Dwight Howard had 21 points, with 11 of those coming from the free-throw line. Rashard Lewis showed the form he’s displayed throughout the play-offs and also registered 21, while Turkoglu had 18. Mickael Pietrus made a number of important plays coming off the bench, scoring 20 points, with 10 coming the 4th. More importantly, he kept Kobe at bay in the 4th quarter.
You couldn’t ask for much more from the 7 or 8 guys who played. They displayed their ability to move the ball and sink the open look from distance. It’s how they got here. They made all the right shots at all the right times. Well, you could knit-pick and say Rashard Lewis had his toe on the three-point line when he nailed that jumper with 2 minutes remaining, but that turned out not to matter anyway. But, the most astonishing number of the night was 62.5. That was the percentage the magic shot from the floor, setting an NBA Finals record in the process. Not since the 1991 Bulls had a team shot so well in a Finals game.
These numbers paint quite the picture. But take a look at the two most important numbers of the night: 108-104. They tell quite a different story. It says that even though the Magic played ‘their game’ (shooting) to perfection, they only just got by. Even though they shot a record-breaking 62.5%, they almost lost.
Pietrus did do a good job of covering Kobe (31 points) but I don’t think it’s fair to say that he stopped him just because they won. Kobe stopped himself. He went 5-10 from the line. He turned the ball over with under a minute remaining and a chance to take the lead. That’s all on him. He makes those shots like he usually does, who knows what would have happened?
But the game is over, and the Magic deserved the win. I (even though you can’t tell from this article) want the Magic to win. I like the way they play, and I like the underdog. I just don’t think it’s time to get too carried away yet. Yes, the Magic played outstanding, but they were still fortunate to come away with the win tonight. Kobe and the Lakers had numerous chances to win it. And we know Kobe is going to come back with more fire and a scarier game-face (if that’s even possible) for Game 4.
I still think the Magic have what it takes to beat the Lakers, they just cannot afford to slip up at home if they want to have a chance. They need to prove this performance was not a fluke by winning Game 4 on Thursday. Then we’ll have a series.