The Finals: Game 3 reaction

Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: Orlando shot the hell out of the ball. The Lakers made a ton of mistakes on the defensive end of the court, but Orlando had just as big a role, if not much bigger, in tossing in 108 points in a slow game. The ball movement wasn’t perfect, but it was done quickly, and the shots were falling even as the Magic (supposedly) bucked NBA tradition by going from the outside-in. The ball was moving, and the spacing was there. Yes, the screen and roll attack bogged down a bit in the third and part of the fourth quarter as the team’s legs left them and Hedo Turkoglu made some questionable decisions, but by and large the Magic built their offensive juggernaut with quick flashes to the ball that were met by a pass. Credit Stan Van Gundy’s play calling. Early in the first quarter, he set his shakier-types up for quick looks that they couldn’t think too long about. Rashard Lewis’ first two buckets were quick flashes to the post for a turnaround jumper. Rafer Alston’s first attempts (and makes) were on guard-around screens that Derek Fisher went under. All four shots left no room for contemplation. All four shots went in.

Jeff Miller of the OC Register: Kobe Bryant, so often the inhuman highlight film, was oh so human Tuesday, the game’s No. 1 closer this time the victim of someone else’s walk-off dramatics. “You know,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said after a 108-104 loss to the Magic, “we’re all frail as humans.” All it means for now is The Finals will be going at least five games. Ultimately, that might be it, nothing more than a blip on the way to the top. But if the Magic can continue badgering Bryant and he keeps huffing down the stretch and Orlando is making its shots … there’s still a chance this matchup could become quite interesting. See, even Bryant, who has carried this team – this franchise, actually – for so long now, is still subject to the most basic of man’s needs. Specifically, we’re talking here about oxygen.

John Romano of the St. Petersburg Times: The Magic is like a small-college team with a rumpled coach and an antiquated arena, and I mean that in the best way possible. Orlando reminds us what is possible when a group of guys are willing to share both a ball and a dream. There are times when we take that for granted in the NBA. When we get caught up in LeBron’s hype or Kobe’s legacy, and forget that basketball is a game best played by a group that understands harmony.

Mark Heisler of the LA Times: The Lakers wish the Magic just knocked down a lot of bad shots on a hot night. Actually, Van Gundy and his players have figured out how to run an offense, after Phil Jackson and the Lakers took Dwight Howard away from them. Now, the Magic players wait for the Lakers to jump on Howard in the post, or on pick-and-rolls, and throw the ball to whomever they leave.

Mike Wise of the Washington Post: Twenty years in the making, Kobe had to inexplicably lose his dribble and the basketball in the final minute, a sight akin to watching Mariano Rivera blow a save or Tiger Woods double-bogey a playoff hole. Even after a plethora of misses by the Lakers from the three-point line, the outcome wasn’t certain. Confetti was already coming down when the public-address announcer at Amway Arena intoned, “The play is under review.” How apropos, no? This wasn’t as bad as Tracy McGrady proclaiming a playoff-series victory that never happened in Orlando. But when 0.2 of a second was put on the clock they had to wonder in this town if the wait would ever end. Twenty years or two-tenths of a second, seems like the Magic was always on hold, listening for the horn to blare so that a single, precious game in the NBA Finals could be theirs.

George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: We’re talking salary-cap restrictions. We could very well be seeing the last of Hedo Turkoglu or Marcin Gortat in a Magic uniform. Maybe both of them. Turkoglu is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent after Orlando’s run in the Finals. That would mark the end of his six-year, $39-million deal with the Magic. He’d be foolish to play out his final season and settle for $7.3 million. I know. It’s all Monopoly money to me, too, but it’s the market value, people. Don’t you wish you were taller? Hedo has certainly come up big for the Magic, despite the predictable moment in every game when he’ll bounce a pass off somebody’s head in Section 108. It’s part of the Hedo Vibe, mostly groovy with moments of temporary insanity. But Hedo’s got enough leverage to earn himself a bigger paycheck elsewhere. He can shoot, dribble, drive, score, pass. He has played every position except center in his career. He had another strong game Tuesday night, with 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists. That’s a lot of leverage.

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