By Christian Binder, WSOE Sports
The Los Angeles Lakers inched closer to their 15th title Thursday night, beating the Orlando Magic 99-91 in overtime. This time, though, it wasn’t because of Kobe “The Closer” Bryant. The Lakers can thank Derek Fisher for providing the heroics.
The 34-year-old Fisher (pictured right), now in his second stint with the Lakers, nailed two crucial three pointers. The first came with 4.6 seconds left in regulation, which sent the game into overtime. Then, with 31.3 seconds to go in overtime, Fisher’s three iced the game and put the Lakers one game closer to winning another title. Though Fisher was the hero of the day, the best player for the Lakers still churned out the best numbers of the game. Kobe Bryant scored 32 points, had 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. Trevor Ariza, arguably the Lakers’ “x-factor,” scored 13 of the Lakers’ 30 points in the third quarter. Pau Gasol also contributed 16 points in the win.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was blunt with reporters after the game as he normally is. When asked what the mood in the locker room was after the game, he simply replied “somber.” The Magic had a lead as large as 12 points and the Lakers really had their backs against the wall. However, the team just seemed to collapse. Dwight Howard could only do so much. “Superman” almost registered a triple-double, missing it by one block. He had 16 points, 21 rebounds, and 9 blocks. The difference in the game was the poor free throw shooting of the Magic. As a team, they missed 15 free throws, more than enough to win the game. Hedo Turkoglu, who scored a team-high 25 points, said after the game that he was working on free throws with Howard, but it didn’t matter. Howard missed 8 free throws and Turkoglu missed 5. Now the Magic find themselves down three games to one and in a very desperate situation. Game 4 was just another game this postseason that got away from the Magic.
Now that the Lakers are one win away from another championship, Kobe Bryant can rest a little bit easier. Should the Lakers win Game 5, he will finally be able to say he won a championship without Shaquille O’Neal. Bryant will also have his fourth championship ring if the Lakers take the series. Also, if the Lakers win, Phil Jackson will have his tenth championship ring, breaking his tie for most titles with legendary coach Red Auerbach. Jackson won six championships with the Chicago Bulls and three with the Lakers, on the verge of his fourth with the Lakers. The Magic would have to win three in a row to win the series and all of the momentum is in favor of the Lakers.