Posted by Neil Paine on June 8, 2009
Another game, another crushing loss for the Magic. This one wasn't crushing because it was a blowout, mind you, but for the exact opposite reason: Orlando had the game in their grasp at various points in the 4th quarter (a buzzer-beating, game-winning alley-oop attempt by Courtney Lee literally missed by inches) and overtime, yet in the end they could not stave off the Lakers when it came down to making a key stop in the closing sequences. First, here's the advanced box score:
|Los Angeles Lakers||97.1||101||104.0||98.8|
Neither offense was clicking on all cylinders last night -- Kobe Bryant scored 29 inefficient points on 32 possessions, Trevor Ariza, Andrew Bynum, & Derek Fisher combined for a paltry .366 Floor%, and literally everyone except Rashard Lewis struggled on the Orlando side. Lewis came through huge, with 32 points produced and a 147.4 offensive rating, and Pau Gasol was his usual high-efficiency self, but the real unsung hero was Lamar Odom, who produced an efficient 17 points for L.A. on 11 possessions and made 9 defensive stops for a game-best +10 plus/minus. But all in all, the two squads combined for a 101.4 offensive rating, well below both the Lakers' (112.7) and Magic's (109.2) seasonal averages.
Luckily for the Lakers, though, they mustered the points when they needed to down the stretch. Bryant owned the free throw line in the 4th, while Odom carried the offense at times, and Gasol was there for a critical game-tying lay-in with 30 seconds left that eventually forced OT when Lee's buzzer-beater rimmed out. In the extra period, L.A.'s defense allowed only 8 points in 10 trips down the floor and they made all 9 of their shots from the charity stripe, rendering Rashard Lewis' 3-pointer with 26 seconds left (a shot reminiscent of the game-winner he drilled in Game 4 of the Cleveland series) largely irrelevant when Lamar Odom sank his freebies a few moments later.
Needless to say, going down 2-0 is devastating to the Magic's chances. If we use the point differential-based model we employed before the series began, Orlando now has just an 11.6% probability of winning the championship, with the most likely outcomes being as follows:
|Lakers in 4||23.2%|
|Lakers in 5||24.1%|
|Lakers in 6||26.3%|
|Magic in 6||4.5%|
|Lakers in 7||14.9%|
|Magic in 7||7.1%|
As I noted in an interview with the Magic blog Third Quarter Collapse before the series began, winning at least 1 game, and probably 2, at Staples Center was necessary if the Magic wanted to have a chance to beat L.A. Now they've whiffed on 2 opportunities to do that, including a Game 2 that was right there for the taking. And, realistically speaking, they now cannot afford to lose any of their 3 home games this week if they're going to have a shot. This team has faced and overcome long odds in the past, but right now it looks like they're going to have to channel the 2006 Heat or something to come away with the Larry O'Brien Trophy this season (and Dwyane Wade's not walking through that door).