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Game 5 News and Notes

Game 5 News and Notes

Lakers-Magic, Game 5
By Brian Edwards

There’s been a lot of talk about Kobe Bryant’s legacy in recent weeks, but that’s a discussion for another day. Coming out of Thursday’s Game 4 win by the Lakers in overtime at Orlando, the only thing to talk about is one of the classiest guys in the NBA, Derek Fisher.

It was Fisher who was the catalyst in Los Angeles taking a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals with a 99-91 victory over the Magic at Amway Arena. The Lakers took the cash as two-point road underdogs, while the 190 points stayed ‘under’ the 202-point total even though the game went to an extra session.

With L.A. trailing 87-84 with 11 seconds remaining, Dwight Howard had a chance to put the game on ice. However, he missed a pair of free throws to give the Lakers life. And Fisher wouldn’t let the opportunity slip away.

When the Magic immediately doubled Bryant, he gave the ball up to Trevor Ariza, who threw cross-court to Fisher as he came across half court. With Jameer Nelson inexplicably giving Fisher plenty of room, the veteran guard pulled up for a deep trey that tickled nothing but twine with 4.6 ticks remaining. Orlando’s Mickael’s Pietrus misfired on a tough look at the end of regulation.
   
Howard’s misses at the charity stripe were costly, but Howard wasn’t the only one struggling from the line. The Magic missed 15 free throws. Hedo Turkoglu, who had a team-high 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor, was off the mark three times in four free-throw attempts in the last 5:06 of regulation.

With game knotted at 91-91 in OT, Bryant was doubled as he backed Pietrus down on the low block. When the double team came, Bryant found Fisher at the top of the key and he was able to step into another trey that found all net. Fisher’s go-ahead 3-pointer was the dagger.

He came into the league the same year as Bryant, a product of Arkansas Little Rock from out of the Sun Belt Conference. He’s been the consummate professional from day one. In fact, you could call him the Anti-Kobe. When Shaq and Kobe had their problems during a four-year run of trips to the finals, Fisher was always the voice of reason.

With the exception of one year spent in Utah, Fisher has been with Bryant every step of the way. In 2004 with the Lakers and Spurs tied at 2-2 in Game 5, San Antonio went up one with less than a second left on an improbable 3-pointer from Tim Duncan.

The remarkable shot by Duncan seemingly had turned the series, but L.A. still had a chance in-bounding from half court. With most expecting the Lakers to go to Shaq or Bryant for a potential game winner, it was Fisher that came off a screen clean. He took the pass and went up in one motion for a high-arching fadeaway jumper as the horn sounded. The shot got no rim and Fisher sprinted off the court a victor. The Lakers put the Spurs away in Game 6 back at Staples Center.

More than a decade later after Fisher and Bryant came into the league together (along with UConn’s Travis Knight as well), they are poised to collect a fourth career NBA championship ring.

They’ll get that chance Sunday night in Orlando on ABC at 8:05 p.m. Eastern. Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the Magic as a two-point favorite with a total of 197. As of early Friday night, most books had Orlando as a three-point ‘chalk’ with the total increased to 198 ½. Bettors can take the Lakers to win outright for a plus-130 return (risk $100 to win $130).

No proposition numbers had been released as of Friday night. Nevertheless, we’ll discuss props right now. As I recommended on Thursday’s edition of the Power Hours on VI Radio, Howard’s rebounds went ‘over’ 15 when he pulled down 21. The Magic’s big man also had nine blocked shots and 16 points, but he made only 6-of-14 from the charity stripe.

In Game 2, the total for Howard’s rebounds was 15 and went ‘over’ when had 16 boards. In Game 3, the total was adjusted to 15 ½ and ‘under’ backers cashed when Howard had just 14 rebounds.

Bryant had 32 points in Game 4, allowing ‘over’ backers at Sportsbook.com to cash tickets since his total was 31 ½. His prop for points has been in the 31 ½-32 ½ range throughout the series.

Sportsbook.com also offered adjusted lines for Game 4. If you took the Lakers at minus 3 ½, you brought home a plus-160 payout (paid $160 on $100 wagers).

With most props for Game 5 not expected to be released until Saturday, I’ll come back and discuss those when they’re made available.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Robert Horry is the career leader in 3-pointers made during the NBA Finals with 56. Michael Jordan is second with 42 trifectas. Third? That would be Mr. Fisher with 40. He could pass Jordan before these Finals are over.

--With L.A. leading 3-1, the series price is now off the board. If Orlando wins Game 5, gamblers can expect to see an adjusted price available prior to Tuesday’s Game 6, if necessary.

Sportsbook.com has a wager available for what team LeBron James will play for in 2010-2011. The Cavs are the even-money favorites, while the Knicks have plus-200 odds. New Jersey had a plus-350 number and the Pistons are the longshots with plus-550 odds.

--The ‘under’ cashed on Howard’s made free throws (8 ½) in Game 4.

--Orlando assistant coach Patrick Ewing has been signed to an extension.

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Re: Game 5 News and Notes

Game of the day: NBA Finals Game 5
By David Chan

Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic (-3, 198.5)

The betting line

The Magic opened as 4-point favorites, but that line was quickly bet down to -3 and now bettors are starting to see -2.5 pop up at various venues.

Orlando was favored by 4.5 points in Game 3 but only 2.5 points in Game 4. That Game 4 line actually closed at -1.5.

The total didn't stay north of 200 for long. Early money came in on the under, moving the number down to 198.5 where it current resides.

That's two points lower than Thursday's Game 4.

The Fisher king

“He’s been there before."

That was Kobe Bryant's take on Derek Fisher following Game 4.

Were it not for Fisher's late-game heroics, we would be discussing a 2-2 series right now.

Was Fisher wholly responsible or was it just another case of Orlando proving its naysayers right.

The knock on the Magic has been their inability to close. On Thursday, they let a 12-point halftime lead completely dissolve in the third quarter before rallying in the fourth.

But it was all for not as they blew a 5-point lead in the final minute of the game and collapsed in the late stages of overtime.

Typical is the word that comes to mind.

Not dead yet

Dwight Howard doesn't think his team is finished.

“There’s no reason for us to hold our heads down,” Howard told the media following Game 4. “We will believe until there’s no more games to be played.”

Head coach Stan Van Gundy didn't sound so optimistic.

“This is the toughest one because it puts us down two games and on the brink of elimination. The mood (in the locker room) was very somber."

Finding their shots

It’s obvious by this point that in order to win another game in this series, the Magic are going to have to shoot the lights out.

They shot better than 62 percent in their only victory and even that was a monumental struggle as the winning margin was only four points.

The Lakers couldn't have shot much worse in Game 4, connecting on just 38-of-91 FG attempts, yet they still managed to win the game.

That's the mark of a champion, finding a way to win, even when you're not at your best.

On the rebound

If there's one thing the Magic can hang their hat on, it's their ability to bounce back.

Orlando is 7-2 straight-up, and since their second round series against Boston, 5-1-1 against the number after a loss.

The Lakers were 1-9 ATS after a win through the first two-plus playoff rounds, but have since straightened things out.

They're 3-1 SU and 2-1-1 ATS in their last four games following a victory.

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Re: Game 5 News and Notes

NBA FINALS

L.A. Lakers (15-7 SU, 12-9-1 ATS) at Orlando (13-10 SU, 11-11-1 ATS)


The Lakers, on the strength of a fortuitous Game 4 victory, look to wrap up their 15th NBA title on the road when they take on the desperate Magic in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Amway Arena.

Los Angeles forced overtime on a Derek Fisher three-pointer in the waning seconds Thursday, then got another key Fisher trifecta in the extra session that proved to be the game-winner in a 99-91 victory as a 1½-point road underdog. Kobe Bryant had a typical solid effort, with 32 points and eight assists, and Pau Gasol added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Trevor Ariza nearly matched Gasol’s double-double, with 16 points and nine boards.

Hedo Turkoglu paced Orlando with 25 points in Game 4, and Dwight Howard had 16 points and a whopping 21 boards. But the star center went just 6 of 14 from the free-throw line, including two backbreaking misses with the Magic up by three and 11 seconds remaining. In fact, the charity stripe killed Orlando, which went 22 of 37 (59.5 percent) – including four misses by the normally reliable Turkoglu – while Los Angeles got only 20 attempts but made 15 (75 percent). The Magic blew a 12-point halftime lead.

Including this series, Orlando is 3-3 SU and 3-2-1 ATS this season against Los Angeles and 5-3-1 ATS (4-5 SU) in the last nine clashes in this rivalry. In addition, the underdog is 8-1-1 ATS in the last 10 meetings, with the road team going 7-2-1 ATS in that stretch. The Lakers are also 4-1-1 ATS in their last six visits to Amway Arena.

Orlando is 40-12 SU (29-22-1 ATS) at home this season, including 8-3 SU (6-4-1 ATS) in the postseason, but it had a five-game home winning streak (4-1 ATS) snapped with Thursday’s defeat. Los Angeles is 34-17 SU (28-22-1 ATS) on the highway for the year, going 5-5 SU (5-4-1 ATS) in road playoff games, including 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS in the last five.

The Lakers are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six overall and sport additional pointspread streaks of 23-8-3 as road underdog, 17-7-1 catching less than five points, 11-5 against the Eastern Conference and 8-3 going on two days’ rest. On the flip side, L.A. still carries negative ATS streaks of 3-11-2 in the Finals, 4-11-1 against the Southeast Division and 4-10 following a SU win.

The Magic are on ATS purges of 1-4-1 against the Western Conference, 7-16-1 laying five points or less and 2-4-1 as a playoff chalk of the same price, though they remain on spread-covering upticks of 8-3-1 overall, 21-9-1 against the West, 14-5-1 after two days off and 9-3 on Sunday.

Six of the last seven meetings between these squads in Orlando have cleared the posted price, but Thursday’s game fell well short of the 200½-point total, giving the under a 4-1 mark in this series. In addition, the under for Los Angeles is on tears of 11-3 overall, 8-1 against the East, 6-2 after a spread-cover and 9-4 after a SU win.

Finally, the under for Orlando is on rolls of 7-1 against the West, 8-3 with the Magic as a playoff chalk, 28-12 as a home favorite and 19-7 following a two-day layoff.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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Orlando the favorite in uphill battle
By Doug Upstone

Based on Friday's accounts of Game 4 between Los Angeles and Orlando, Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy should have been the lead story at the top of every newscast and .com website, since he alone is the reason Orlando failed to tie the series at 2-2 and reportedly killed his team's chance to be NBA champions. One problem with that thinking, it's often incorrect. Did Van Gundy error, likely so, he should have had his players foul at almost any point in the final 10.8 seconds, but give Los Angeles a ton of credit, as they perfectly executed out of bounds play that led to Derrick Fisher's game-tying shot in regulation.

Van Gundy didn't have the luxury of calling timeout when Jameer Nelson decided to play zone against Fisher at most critical point, in a game known for man defense. Van Gundy played a hunch and he's being crucified, but let's not lose sight of another important factor, with 32 seconds remaining in overtime, the score was tied at 91. At that juncture, both teams were still in position to take the game, the Lakers snatched it and the Magic did not.

Van Gundy should be blamed for playing Nelson, when his best option was Rafer Alston, good or bad. It was evident from the first time Nelson took the court in the series, two to three minute stints would be the most useful way to utilize player who hadn't seen the court in four months. Van Gundy's trust or lack of in Alston betrayed him and his team fell to 40-12 and 29-23 ATS as home.

Orlando is 21-8 ATS revenging a home loss vs opponent, but unless they do all the little things (keep in mind everything counts), they won't improve that record. Reports had Dwight Howard choking for missing two free throws late; however he just reverted to being Superman shooting kryptonite as he had done much of the season. Missing 15 of 37 attempts from the charity stripe will cause almost any team to lose and the 17 turnovers led directly to 16 L.A. points.

The Magic find themselves in this predicament because they failed to match Lakers intensity in second half and scored a grand total of 42 points in last 29 minutes. Orlando is 14-5 ATS when playing with two days rest this season and has to play like a team that is absolutely desperate. Feed the ball into Howard, who must be decisive and go to the basket with authority. When he has the ball for more then two seconds, evil events often occur (seven turnovers in last contest), Howard has to be powerful and demanding.

Van Gundy has to somehow convince Alston he's his guy (good luck) and get him mentally back into focus. Rashard Lewis is the only player in the Finals that makes Lamar Odom look a bastion of mental rock-solid stability. Wouldn't you like to know where these players go during games? It appears Lewis should have sugar levels tested frequently throughout any given.
Orlando has again opened as 2.5-point favorites at Betonline.com to send the series back to other coast, with total at 199. The Magic have liked Sunday's well enough, sporting a 9-3 ATS record and are 9-1 UNDER after a game where they made 60 percent of their free throws or less this season.

What makes this a challenging wager is the Lakers mindset. They haven't always brought A-game on the road this postseason. The purple-clad team from L.A. has been a brilliant road underdog, with 11-3 ATS record this season and Kobe Bryant assuredly will have his mad face on, trying to win a championship and not have to share the limelight with a star player of equal status, giving him an argosy of tales and memories to cherish. The Lake Show hasn't been as profitable on Sunday's with 3-7 ATS record and is 13-3-1 UNDER on this day of the week.

It will be interesting to watch Van Gundy, does he continue to play his hunches or go more by the book, unless the players execute, either way can be wrong. Game 5 starts at just after 8 Eastern, with the underdog now 8-1 against the spread when these teams compete against one another.

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