Game 3 Rewind

Game 3 Rewind

Game 3 Rewind
By Brian Edwards

The NBA Finals Curse is over for Orlando. Even with Nick Anderson in the house, the Magic wouldn’t let Game 3 get away, capturing a 108-104 victory over the Lakers on Tuesday night at Amway Arena.

Los Angeles maintains a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 slated for Thursday.

The Lakers are also 2-1 against the spread in this best-of-seven showdown with a 2-3-2 format. They covered the number as 4 ½-point underdogs thanks to a bunch of long offensive rebounds in the final minute.

For gamblers backing Orlando laying the points, it was an excruciating defeat. After a pair of free throws from Mickael Pietrus, the Magic led 106-102 with 28 seconds left. One stop would force the Lakers to foul and put Orlando backers in a good situation.
   
When Kobe Bryant badly misfired on a quick shot from 3-point land, Trevor Ariza grabbed the rebound. Three more L.A. misses would follow and three more offensive boards followed. When Bryant grabbed the last of those four rebounds, he scored on a putback with 0.5 seconds left.

On the ensuing in-bounds play, the Lakers immediately fouled but the horn sounded nonetheless. For bettors who got the number at four or had the option to buy a half-point, this was obviously a crucial clock decision.

The officials reviewed the play and decided to put 0.2 ticks on the clock. Rashard Lewis nailed both free throws to at least allow some Magic backers to garner a push.

After a pair of ‘unders’ in Games 1 and 2 at Staples Center, the 212 combined points sailed ‘over’ the 198 ½-point total.

Stan Van Gundy’s team set an NBA Finals record by shooting at an incredible 75-percent clip from the field in the first half. The Magic still trailed for much of the first two quarters because Bryant was blazing away with an array of jumpers and runners in the lane. But an 8-3 spurt to close the half gave Orlando a 59-54 advantage at intermission.

For second-half wagers, oddsmakers tabbed the Magic as a one-point ‘chalk,’ equating to a six-point spread for the game when considering the five-point lead. Therefore, bettors taking the Lakers in the second half were able to cash tickets.

The total was 101 for the second half at most spots. That made the number 214 since 113 points were scored in the first half. This wager resulted in an ‘under.’

Orlando prevailed – straight up, that is -- thanks to a total team effort, but the play of Rafer Alston and Pietrus was the catalyst. And it’s exactly what the Magic were missing back in Tinseltown.

Alston scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while Pietrus had 18 points by draining 7-of-11 attempts from the field. Pietrus had three steals and forced Bryant to make only 4-of-15 shots after the first quarter.

Dwight Howard finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Lewis had 21 points, five boards and five assists. Hedo Turkoglu had 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

In the losing effort, Bryant had 31 points and eight assists. But he committed four turnovers, bringing his number of give-aways to 11 in the last two games. The most costly of those turnovers came in the final minute when his team trailed by two and he lost the ball on the dribble. Pietrus came away with the ensuing loose ball and then hit the pair of aforementioned free throws for a four-point lead with 28 seconds left.

Pau Gasol continued to make up for his lackluster play in last year’s Finals against the Celtics. He made 9-of-11 shots and scored 23 points. Three other Lakers scored in double figures. Ariza had 13 points, while Lamar Odom and Jordan Farmer chipped in with 11 points apiece.

At 11:56 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Orlando as a 2 ½-point home favorite for Thursday’s Game 4 at Amway Arena. The total was 201 on the send-out.

As of early Wednesday morning, most spots had the Magic favored by three with the total unchanged.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Something tells me the Magic will ask that young girl to sing the national anthem again Thursday. They are now 7-0 when Gina Marie Incandela sings the star-spangled banner.

--Bettors backing Howard in prop bets came away disappointed. With 21 points and 14 rebounds, his boards stayed ‘under’ the total (16). Also, a prop for his points+rebounds had a total of 35 ½, falling just ‘under.’

--Bryant’s prop bet for points scored was 32 ½ at most books, so the ‘under’ was the winner for that wager.

--In my Game 2 Rewind, I mentioned how Courtney Lee scored the contest’s first points to cash generous plus-800 tickets (paid $800 on $100 wagers). In Game 3, another attractive ticket cashed for this proposition. This time around, it was Derek Fisher burying a 15-foot jumper to hook up his backers with a plus-800 payout.

--The ‘over’ was a winner on prop bets for points scored by both Lewis (18 ½) and Turkoglu (16 ½).

--The ‘under’ was easily a winner on points+rebounds props for Gasol (28 ½) and Odom (21 ½). Gasol had 21 points but just three rebounds, while Odom had 11 points and only two boards.

Brian Edwards can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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