The Magic seemed to have woke up in time for game two, after their zombie-like performane in game one, but it still wasn't enough as Kobe and the Lakers won 101-96 in overtime in game two of the NBA finals.
It was as much Pau Gasol down the stretch as it was Bryant leading the Lakers. The L.A. center was 3-for-3 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and overtime. Gasol finished the game with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Maybe more importantly however, has been the way that Gasol has held his own inside against "Superman" Dwight Howard. Howard was held to just 17 points, and was double or tripled team nearly every time he touched the ball.
Bryant didn't disappoint either though, as he finished the game with 29 points and eight assists.
There has been a huge deal made about Bryant's quest to win a ring on his own... or at least without Shaq. While the latter part of that may be true, Bryant is certainly not winning these games alone. He is very clearly one of the most clutch performer's in the league, but what has been more impressive to me as the playoffs has gone on is the way he's learning to trust and use his teammates. Bryant is not winning this title on his own, nor should he be trying. He tried the solo route for a while after Shaq went to the Heat, and it netted him two first-round exits from the playoffs and a year where they didn't even qualify for the playoffs.
Bryant is now learning what the best knew... Using your teammates and making them better doesn't take away from your legacy.
The series now heads to Orlando on Tuesday, and the Magic will be pulling out all the stops to try and come back to Los Angeles with the series tied at two games a piece.
Fast Facts (from ESPN.com)
• The Lakers grabbed a 2-0 series lead and their fourth straight playoff win overall.
• In NBA history, when the home team wins the first two games of a
best-of-seven series, they've gone on to win that series 94.2 percent
of the time. Only three times in NBA Finals history has a team come
back to win the series after losing the first two games (most recently
the 2006 Heat).
• Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 29 points. Pau Gasol added 24 points
and 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double in his last 11 games.
• Rashard Lewis led the Magic with a playoff career-high 34 points
(including 18 of the Magic's 20 second quarter points) to go with 10
rebounds and a playoff career-high seven assists. His point total
marked the most ever by a Magic player in an NBA Finals game.
• Dwight Howard became just the second player in NBA playoff history to
amass at least 15 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, four steals and
three blocks in a playoff game. The other was Hakeem (Akeem at the
time) Olajuwon in 1986.