No Contest: Lakers Dominate Game One

Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy spent a chunk of his post-game press conference talking about the history of other teams that got blown out in an NBA Finals game and came back to win it all. That speaks volumes about game 1 of the NBA Finals, a 100-75 win in rout by the Lakers.

Orlando's coach had little else to talk about. When asked what he saw in the game that he liked Van Gundy said, “nothing.”

Starting in the second quarter the Lakers in general — and Kobe Bryant in particular — dominated every aspect of the game and Los Angeles manhandled Orlando. The Lakers now lead the best of seven series1-0.

What had to be disheartening for Orlando is how the Lakers — a team often accused of being soft — controlled the paint and the rebounds at both ends of the floor. The Lakers outscored the Magic 56-22 in the paint, despite Orlando having all-world center Dwight Howard.

Kobe Bryant may have been beyond all world.

Once the Lakers started running the high pick-and-roll with Kobe and Pau Gasol, something they often saved for key plays at the end of the game during the regular season Orlando had no answer — they laid off Kobe, expecting him to drive to the basket, and instead he pulled up all night for a favorite shot of his, the jumper right at the corner of the free throw line. After going 3 of 9 in the first quarter, Kobe had 12 points in the second quarter, 18 in the third quarter and shot 54.2% for the rest of the game.

“He had the smell and he found the kind of angle what he wanted to do out there and carried that game into the second half,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

After the game, Howard (one of the main culprits in letting Kobe have too many open jumpers) was already thinking of the adjustments he will have to make.

“I think we have to get into him more, tonight he had too many rhythm jump shots,” Howard said.

But it wasn’t just Kobe. Gasol had 16 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Lamar Odom added 11 points. The Lakers shied away from the three and just kept going inside, daring Orlando to stop it. They couldn’t.

Orlando’s offense couldn’t keep pace with Los Angeles. Howard said he thought the Magic had an off night shooting — which they did. Orlando finished shooting worse than 30 percent as a team.

The Lakers defense deserves a lot of credit for that. Early on they pushed Howard away the basket them and dared him to shoot the jumper or drive. He could never get comfortable. When Howard did pass out to the three-point line — a shot the Magic love — they shots did not fall. The Lakers harassed Orlando’s three point shooters early and often, and they never got a good rhythm.

Meanwhile, the Lakers looked like a dominant team. They have done that for three games in a row now — the last two against Denver than this game one — and if they do it for three more there will be a parade in Los Angeles.

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