Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers will go head to head against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic tonight in game three of the NBA finals. The Lakers are up 2-0, winning the first two games at home. Tonight, the Magic have home court advantage. But does Orlando have what it takes to make a much needed come back in this best-of-seven series?

The next three games will be played in Orlando, if the series lasts that long. Orlando was 32-9 at home during the regular season and was 7-2 in the playoffs, including three straight wins against Cleveland in the conference finals. Injuries all season long, four last-second losses in the playoffs and series deficits in two rounds has had the team on the ropes.

Only three teams have won a championship title after losing the first two games in the finals, most recently Miami over Dallas in 2006.

It’s been 14 years since Orlando has reached the championship round. Back then they had a young and talented squad that included Shaq and Penny Hardaway. Unfortunately they were crushed in four consecutive games by the Houston Rockets. Winning games in the finals for Magic is still a difficult mountain to climb. Overall, the team is now 0-6 in finals games. This, many argue, is not a good sign.

In game two against the Lakers, Magic almost won with 0.6 seconds left and the score tied. Courtney Lee broke free, as Hedu Turkoglu threw a lob in his direction right in front of the basket. Lee jumped in the air and just barely missed the alley-oop on the final play in regulation.

If the shot had been made, Orlando would have tied the series, 1-1. A near Orlando victory, however, turned into a 101-96 loss in overtime. The Magic turned the ball over 20 times, made just 22 assists and lacked good ball-handling. Magic has its work cut out if it’s going to win its first ever championship.

The Lakers on the other hand are closing in on their 15th title. Things are looking up for the Lakers, especially under the leadership of superstar Kobe Bryant, who scored 40 points in the first game and 29 in the second. The Lakers also have a solid head coach in the genius of Mr. Phil Jackson.

Talking to reporters, Bryant said he’s not letting up and promises a win tonight.

“We’re about to kick it up,” he said. “You’d better believe it. We’re close. You see what I’m saying? This is the finals. We’re going to be ready to go.”

Bryant kept his game face on, adding, “What’s there to be happy about? The job’s not finished.”

Lakers forward Pau Gasol expressed confidence that his team has what it takes to win. “We’re playing tougher and we understand what it takes to go get the championship,” he said.

Most teams that have home court advantage get a boost, and the Magic need all the positive energy they can get right about now.

Magic center Dwight Howard said he expects a comeback. “We’ve just got to go home and take care of business,” he said. “The Lakers did a good job of protecting their home, and now it’s our turn to do the same thing. We’ve been in tough situations. We’ve just got to fight our way out.”

Many basketball fans, including this writer, want the series to be as exciting as some of the games in the playoffs so far. It would be boring if Magic goes down in the first four games. Too many sports fans expected Bryant and the Lakers to go against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs and James had an outstanding season and many hoped to see them in the finals. But in the end they choked and lost to Orlando in the playoffs.

Bryant is arguably the most talented player in the NBA. But could his leadership steer the Lakers toward another title win? If Orlando pulls off a victory tonight and continue that momentum in the following games, the enthusiasm of a new, fresh and younger championship team would be welcomed.

In the end, unless you are a diehard Lakers or Magic fan, a long and competitive series would be best.

Comments

comments

MOST POPULAR