While his counterpart, Rafer Alston, burned the Lakers with a strong bounce-back performance, Fisher made two early shots to help L.A. lead throughout the first quarter. He didn't do much else until he hit a three-pointer to bring the Lakers within 95-93 with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter.
There were two Kobe Bryants on Tuesday. There was the one who hit seven of his first eight shots and scored 17 points in the first quarter, and then the one who shot 4-of-17 the rest of the way. Bryant also connected on a Shaq-like 50 percent from the line. The worst part for Bryant was his inability to be the Lakers' closer, missing four shots in the final minutes and losing the ball with about 30 seconds left and L.A. trailing by two.
The stat line for the 21-year-old doesn't look like it's going to get any better anytime soon. His excuse in previous games was getting in foul trouble, but he had only two fouls Tuesday and still failed to make an impact.
Following a slow start, Gasol scored 13 points in the second half and tied the game at 99-99 with two free throws with 2:41 left. He slowed down Dwight Howard at times but was eventually overpowered by the big man when referees let Howard play physically in the paint. Gasol will need to get more than three rebounds if the Lakers are going to win on the road.
After four straight stellar performances, Lamar Odom came back down to earth a bit, scoring 11 points and grabbing only two rebounds. In fact, Odom was outrebounded by Jordan Farmer, who had three boards and 11 points in a surprising performance from the second-year point guard. Once again, however, the Lakers got only two players to contribute off the bench. Shannon Brown registered his first DNP of the postseason.
Phil Jackson, Head Coach
There wasn't much Jackson could do late in the game, since it appeared Bryant was gassed and the rest of the Lakers were simply waiting and hoping Bryant could find a way to pull out a win. This would have been a game in which Shannon Brown, an X-factor for the Lakers during the postseason, could have added a spark off the bench.
There was talk among pundits of benching Alston before Game 3, but Stan Van Gundy had faith that his point guard would break out of his slump. And he did just that early, scoring 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting in the first quarter. Alston finally gave Orlando the scoring boost it sorely missed from the backcourt in Los Angeles.
Howard was given the freedom to be more aggressive in the paint and dominated on both ends of the court, grabbing as many rebounds as all three of the Lakers' front-line starters and going to the line 16 times. If the referees allow Howard to bully Pau Gasol down low, the Magic have a chance in this series.
Another solid game for Turkoglu, who led the team in assists and helped the Magic shoot 75 percent from the field in the first half and a Finals-record 62.5 percent overall. His rebound off Kobe Bryant's missed three-pointer late in the game was also key.
Lewis has been the team's steadying force over the last two games. He scored 11 points in the second half Tuesday and hit three three-pointers, each one igniting the sold-out crowd at Amway Arena. His long two-pointer gave the Magic a 104-101 lead with 1:06 left.
Orlando finally got a big game out of Pietrus, who scored 18 points in addition to slowing down Kobe Bryant whenever he was in the game. Orlando didn't get much else from the bench as Tony Battie added four points and Jameer Nelson scored two points in a series-low 11 minutes.
Stan Van Gundy, Head Coach
Van Gundy joked after the game that he was a "motivational genius" in dealing with Alston, but in reality his decision to stay with the point guard who got him to the Finals paid big dividends. Of course, the Magic sure make Van Gundy look good when they knock down shots.
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