The Lakers won the NBA championship in the second quarter tonight, thanks to a three from Trevor Ariza in the second quarter.
At the time, the Lakers had weathered many storms already in Game 5 — a quick start from the Magic that gave them an early 9-point lead; referees who weren’t going to call a reach-in foul on Orlando under any circumstances; that somehow Andrew Bynum had managed to take 11 shots in about 30 seconds.
But after Ariza’s three gave the Lakers a 42-39 lead, the Lakers did the same thing they did in Game 6 at Denver. They squashed Orlando’s hopes. They squashed Orlando’s will to fly cross-country back to Los Angeles, to check into another hotel, to attempt to somehow stop Kobe Bryant and the Lakers from closing out the series at home.
Soon the lead was 10, and it might as well have been 100. After a series that was extremely tight after Game 1 (to the point where every player on the Magic had to have at least entertained thoughts that they should have been the ones with the 3-1 series lead going into tonight, and not the Lakers), Bryant, Ariza, Gasol, Fisher and Odom asserted their absolute dominance over the Magic — and in doing so asserted their dominance over the rest of the NBA.
And it all started with a three from Ariza, one of 40 he made this postseason. For the impending unrestricted free agent, threes weren’t all he made this postseason.
The last hurrah for the candyman?
–It’s a guarantee Ariza will stay in Los Angeles for at least the next four seasons. Lamar Odom? Tougher to say.
–As an unabashed Laker supporter and Odom fan since his days with the Clippers, Jerry Buss absolutely has to pony up for Odom. He was their best interior defender this year (by far), he’s one of about 20 players in the NBA even capable of averaging 10 rebounds a game and he even went 18-for-35 from behind the arc. Wait, what?!?!?! 18-for-35?
–You know, if I could switch places with one player in the NBA, just to see what it would feel like, I’d have to choose Odom. You start your day with 8 Nerds Ropes, a Reese’s Fast Break and a handful of Bit ‘O Honeys, then you’re able to play as a 6’10” lefty with range and handles and be celebrated as long as you doesn’t fall flat on your face. But seriously, the Lakers need Odom next year if they want to get out of the West, unless Andrew Bynum grows up A TON during the offseason.
–And by “grows up” I don’t mean reading “TMZ reported that Lakers center Andrew Bynum was seen yelling at R&B singer Chris Brown outside the ‘Mr. Chow’ restaurant in Beverly Hills last night, reportedly after Brown stole ex-girlfriend Rhianna back from Bynum” this summer.
–Um, I mean…hearing that TMZ tidbit from my girlfriend…
–Getting back to Odom, just put it this way: if you’re the Lakers, would you rather have Odom or Rashard Lewis? Since Lewis proved this series that he’s nothing but a rich man’s Vladimir Radmanovic, I’d say Odom is worth at least $8 million per for a few years, even if that actually means $16M/per due to the Luxury Tax.
Halftime? More like…laughtime! Am I right? Hey, shut up!
–After watching Magic Johnson do his best Stephen A. Smith impression in the shiniest suit since I’ve seen since the 1994 NBA Draft, I can’t help but think: it’s cool as hell he’s able to pretty much shut down HIV.
–However, in the NBA Finals is it ever the right idea to allow a partial owner of one of the teams in question to be a halftime analyst? Wait, Jeff Van Gundy was one of the color announcers. I guess we should all just be happy Bill Walton was nowhere to be found.
–Loved seeing the halftime “Wired” segment in the Magic locker room, which showed all the players listening to a perturbed Stan Van Gundy while sitting in fancy black leather desk chairs.
–That’s why it’s impossible to make a movie about pro sports today. A halftime scene where everyone is leaning forward on wooden benches engenders just a tad more sympathy than watching Jameer Nelson leaning back and gnawing on his mouthpiece.
–The refs weren’t the only ones who wanted to extend the series: ABC had a graphic that showed the score as “Magic 56, Lakers 46” for most of the halftime show.
–I really enjoyed how the Cleveland Cavaliers planted news today that they’re currently in “preliminary talks” to trade for Shaquille O’Neal. Think somebody’s worried about losing Mr. Bron-Bron?
Oh, Sasha…Sasha, Sasha (shaking head)
–Sasha Vujacic is going to get good and drunk tonight, and then maybe for a couple more nights … then he really needs to see a shrink. He’s becoming the poor man’s Chuck Knoblauch. I’d probably cut my hair if I were him, but he’s his own man.
–Here’s what’s working against the Lakers next year: Vujacic, Luke Walton and Adam Morrison are all making over $4 million next year and would have a tough time consistently getting into the Warriors’ rotation.
–Here’s what’s working in favor of the Lakers next year: Unless he injures his knee again (always possible), there’s no possible way Andrew Bynum could play worse than he was in these playoffs.
–Pau Gasol is Kevin McHale. Just sayin’.
–Fitting that Phil Jackson, who officially became the most decorated and important coach in NBA history (because I am in no possible position to say who the “best” coach was/is) played his best lineup, the one Derek Fisher mentioned as the 2009 equivalent of Fisher/Kobe/Fox/Horry/Shaq: Fisher/Kobe/Ariza/Odom/Gasol. There’s a lot to NBA coaching, be it dealing with superstars, the media, gameday preparation or just second-to-second adjustments, but Jackson’s greatest strength has been the ability to put together a group of five players that can come together and win. That’s why Jackson doesn’t call timeouts when other coaches will; he’s trying to see what each group can do when all they have to count on is each other.