The Orlando Magic were oh, so close to knotting the NBA Finals at a game apiece, but Courtney Lee's layup at the end of regulation wouldn't drain through the cylinder, sending the game into overtime with the Lakers eventually taking a 101-96 win. Now the series shifts from the West Coast to sunny Florida with Game 3 on Tuesday night from the Amway Arena where the Magic are 7-2 during the postseason.
Baseball is supposed to be the game of inches, but after Game 2 of the NBA Finals, basketball is giving America’s Pastime a run for its money. With less than a second on the clock and the game tied 88-88, Courtney Lee blew an alley-oop layup off an inbounds pass from Hedo Turkoglu to send the game into overtime. Lee’s shot grazed the rim; a few inches the other way and we’d be talking about an Orlando Magic team headed back home with homecourt advantage and a whole new lease on life.
Instead, the Los Angeles Lakers went on to win 101-96 in Game 2, although it was Magic bettors that got the last laugh with Orlando as 6½-point underdogs. The game played under the 202-point total set by oddsmakers despite the extra period, in large part because the teams combined for the lowest scoring first quarter in NBA Finals history (15-15).
Game 3 (9 PM ET, ABC) is set for Tuesday night back at Amway Arena in Orlando, and sportsbooks had already weighed in before the teams had even hit the showers following overtime. Oddsmakers opened the Magic as 4-point chalk for Game 3, with the total set at 199. Orlando was available at -3½ at the select few outlets that released a line in the wake of Sunday night’s thriller, with about 57% of wagers on the spread having come in on the Lakers through Sunday night.
Game 2 was a much different story than the opener, when Los Angeles cruised to a 100-75 payday as 6-point faves behind 40 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists from Kobe Bryant. Orlando led after three quarters on Sunday night, and if not for Lee’s miss at the end of regulation, the series would be in a completely different place.
Bryant had 29 points (10-for-22 FGs) and eight assists in Game 2, while Pau Gasol finished with 24 points and 10 boards for the Lakers. Rashard Lewis went from eight points in Game 1 to 34 points on Sunday night, adding 11 rebounds and seven assists in the process. Dwight Howard managed a dunk in putting up 17 points, 16 boards, and four blocks for the Magic, who outrebounded the Lakers 44-35 after losing the battle on the glass in Game 1 (55-41 Los Angeles).
Sharps were validated for taking the under in Game 2, but they’re really only following a trend on the Lakers that’s been taking shape since the first round against the Utah Jazz. L.A. is 2-10 O/U in its last 12 contests, and is now 6-14 O/U in the playoffs after finishing the season with the third-ranked offense in the NBA.
The under is also likely to be the play of wise guys for Game 3, even with oddsmakers having reduced the number by three points. The Lakers have played under the total in 11 of their last 16 games away from Staples Center, while the Magic are 6-13 O/U over their last 19 home contests dating back to the regular season.
Orlando won and covered in the only meeting between the teams at Amway Arena this season. Jameer Nelson dropped 27 points, as the Magic (+1.5) clipped the Lakers 106-103 on December 20 despite 41 points and eight rebounds from Kobe. Lewis added 22 points for Orlando, with the game playing over the 205.5-point total listed at the window.
While it’s always useful to delve into the Lakers’ history against the spread in Orlando, it’s almost like comparing apples to oranges. The teams that took the floor before Christmas are different than the squads that battled in Game 2 on Sunday night.
Nelson was in full form back then, while Vladimir Radmanovic was L.A.’s starting small forward. Keith Bogans was in the backcourt with Nelson, and Rafer Alston wasn’t yet with the Magic because Nelson hadn’t yet been injured. Current starting two-guard Courtney Lee played only seven minutes in that game, while current rotation players J.J. Redick and Marcin Gortat didn’t see the floor.
The point is that particular matchup isn’t necessarily representative of how things are going to play out on Tuesday night. For the record, the Lakers managed to win and cover as underdogs in their lone game at Orlando both last season and two years ago (2006-07).
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