It was never this easy against the Nuggets. No way they’d miss so many open shots. It was never this easy against the Rockets. No way they’d let Kobe get more And 1’s than a Foot Locker employee. It wasn’t even this easy at any time against the Jazz, who would have at least fouled someone with some force while getting their heads kicked in.
The Lakers were worried about defending Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu, and none of them could hit any shots. Since Mickael Pietrus is one of the most offensively broken swingmen in the league (which is why Pietrus actually plays more minutes in Orlando than under Don Nelson), and he led the Magic in scoring tonight.
That’s right, Pietrus (who airballed a three in the second quarter, missing the rim by over two feet) led the Magic in scoring tonight, with 14.
Could the Magic just be suffering from stage fright? The NBA Finals is a different world than a Thursday night playoff game on cable television in front of Chuck, Kenny and Ernie, and Orlando looked pretty scared tonight. And that includes Howard, who seemed more worried about foul trouble than the rapidly balooning lead the Lakers created in the second quarter and grew throughout the game.
Whatever the case, the Magic have to come out fast at the start of Game 2 or they’ll get buried in this series. And by fast, that doesn’t mean playing a game where Pietrus is the team’s most active player.
Game 1 Notes
–Jameer Nelson’s return was successful tonight in that he didn’t embarrass himself, and going 3-for-9 from the field is forgivable after a four-month absence. And since Rafer Alston was absolutely worthless tonight Nelson will probably start Game 2. But Nelson, while he’s tough (and the huge ice pack he had attached to his shoulder after the game shows he’s still in pain), isn’t that helpful if he can’t score. It’s not like the guy’s Steve Nash, he’s most valuable when he’s stretching the defense.
–When Michael Jordan came on the scene, everyone wondered what was up with the tongue thing. It became his signature oral move, but at first it made everyone just a little uncomfortable. Now that Kobe’s decided to jut his jaw out and show his teeth whenever he’s on fire, will people start thinking it’s cool like MJ’s tongue? I’m guessing no, but winning is great perfume.
–If Lamar Odom ate nothing but candy today, I know a certain NBA team in Oakland that would be willing to back up a truck full of Starburst jelly beans to Odom’s house once the free agency signing period starts…except for the fact that the only way the Warriors could sign anybody to anything higher than the veteran’s exception is if Jamal Crawford opts out.
–Pau Gasol looked nervous to start the game, until Orlando started unraveling near the end of the second quarter.
–Andrew Bynum wasn’t nervous at all. If he can play like he did tonight when he’s older (and gets more calls), he’ll be just as valuable as Howard.
–5 minutes for Sasha Vujacic — that sounds about right.
–Have to wonder if the top non-story of this game (like Lebron not congratulating anybody or answering any questions after Orlando won Game 6) will be Josh Powell hitting that 3-pointer with a second left to win tacos for the Staples Center crowd.
–OK Staples Center fans, let me get this straight. You just spent hundreds of dollars on Finals tickets. Not a hundred dollars. HUNDREDS of dollars. And you’re really excited about winning 2 free Jack in the Box tacos (which normally cost 99 cents) for the Lakers hitting 100 points and winning?
–Here’s the series in a nutshell: in a series where Kobe Bryant’s desire to win looks legitimately psychotic, the Orlando Magic are trying to guard him one-on-one with Mickael Pietrus and Courtney Lee. Stan Van Gundy better get more creative than just starting Jameer Nelson next game.