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Lakers/Magic Gm 4 Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 06/10/2009



Line Shift



The Lakers lost Game Three by four points which fell right on the number for most bettors. It actually closed at -4.5 so for those who waited to bet Los Angeles got a never in doubt win by the hook. All sarcasm aside, it was very much in doubt but a win nonetheless and a tough loss for Orlando backers who played a team put together a solid effort, easily it best of the season, and they were given nothing in return at the window.



Linesmakers are thinking what a lot of the sharp players are thinking and that is the fact that the Lakers will come out and conceivably win Game Four. The line is already down to -2.5 and is actually -2 at some shops so the Magic win is not swaying action toward their side to even up this series. If not for a missed layup at the end of regulation in Game Two, Orlando would have the ball in its court and would really be able to put the pressure on the Lakers.



The first two games of this series stayed way under as Game One missed the total by 29.5 points while Game Two missed the total by 26 points (in regulation). Game Three saw the first posted total of this series be under 200 and it ended up going over by 14 points. Now the linesmakers don’t know what to do and LVSC opened Game Four at 201.5 and that is where it currently sits. Based on the first three games, it is tough to decipher what sort of game will be played out on Thursday.



Shooting Blanks or Shooting Darts



The Magic shot a dismal 29.9 percent in Game One and 41.8 percent in Game Two. To no ones surprise, they lost both of those games. Orlando came back on Tuesday and shot a blistering 62.5 percent from the floor and it needed every bit of it to pull out the win. The Magic shoots 45.8 percent at home compared to 45.5 percent on the road so it isn’t like they have a big advantage when playing at Amway Arena.



While Orlando was able to pick things up, it cannot be overlooked what the Lakers have done. They have gone from 46.1 percent to 46.2 percent to 51.3 percent over the three games. If nothing else, they have been more consistent and that is a sure sign that it will continue as Orlando has been all over the place on the offensive end. The fact that Orlando played arguably the best it could play and won by just four points tells us something.



“We didn’t allow being down 0-2 to discourage us,â€쳌 Orlando center Dwight Howard said. “We’ve come along way and we want to win a championship.â€쳌 He made two great points in that quote but it will be tough for Orlando to play near perfect basketball for three more games to win the title. “The sad thing is we shot 62.5 percent and nearly lost the game,â€쳌 said guard Rafer Alston. He is exactly right.



The Kobe Factor



The Lakers could have and should have won Game Three in Orlando if Kobe Bryant played his normal game. He came far from it. After a hot start, he missed 10 of his final 12 shots while also missing five of his 10 free throw attempts. Not to mention the fact that “Mr. Clutchâ€쳌 became “Mr. Chokeâ€쳌 after his lack of production and numerous miscues in the fourth quarter. Have we already seen the best of Kobe or was it just an aberration? I vote for the latter.



“It was disappointing,â€쳌 Bryant said, his voice barely above a whisper. “I’m used to coming through in these situations, the team trusts me in those situations and it just didn’t happen tonight.â€쳌 He is hungry for this title and we saw it after Game Two when he was as monotone as ever saying that two wins in two games means nothing and there is no reason to be happy.



Watching him at the end of the Nuggets series showed us how fatigued he really was. The time off in-between the Conference Finals and this series helped no one more than Bryant. He did have a bad game on Tuesday but every player does in these types of games. He will be back and whether it be Game Four or Game Five, he is going to lead the Lakers to a win and send the series back to Los Angeles or he may just step it up both times and raise the trophy in Orlando. We will wait and see.

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