By Craig Filazzola, WSOE Sports Director
What more do you want out of Kobe Bryant? I don’t understand why critics have made a big deal out of Bryant’s fourth quarter of game three. In Games 1 and 2, he constantly made shots with a defender’s hand in his face. If it wasn’t for him, not only would the Los Angeles Lakers not be in the finals, but the team would have dropped game two and be down 2-1 to the Orlando Magic.
Bryant (pictured right) has averaged 33.3 points, eight assists and five rebounds for the series. I don’t think we need to worry about him being tired. Game 5 won’t even be until Sunday, because the NBA gives a ridiculous amount of days between games. I guess we’ll also forget that Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum only combined for 15 points in Game 3. Let’s have anxiety over Bryant putting up 31 when a couple of Lakers couldn’t be the role players they needed to be. I’m not even a Bryant fan, but clearly he isn’t the problem.
Game 3 saw the Orlando Magic shoot for a finals record 63 percent. A lot of that is great shooting, but some of that is poor defense. The Lakers should have done a better job of closing in on outside shooters.
A Magic win tonight will even the series 2-2. What must the Magic and Lakers do? Here are the keys to the game.
- Get the ball quickly to Dwight Howard in the post. Don’t lob passes and give the Laker defense time to collapse and surround Howard.
- Set up three-point attempts for Hedo Turkoglu. He’s 5-for-12, 41.7 percent behind the arc for the series.
- Rashard Lewis and Rafer Alston need big showings. In Game 3, they contributed 41 points, shooting 16-for-26 from the field.
- Pau Gasol needs to play like he did in the first two games. In those games, he provided 40 points and 18 rebounds.
- Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum can’t underachieve. They need to make their share of baskets.
- Continue to play with great team effort on offense, but step it up on defense.
Game 4 is at 9:00 tonight on ABC.
WSOE Sports Director