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 Lakers Dominate Magic 100-75

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PostSubject: Lakers Dominate Magic 100-75   Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:28 pm

LOS ANGELES(AP) Kobe Bryant has waited a
year, a long year, for another chance at NBA title. He's not about to
let this one slip away.The Olympic gold medal was nice. Not nearly enough.He covets another golden trophy."I just want it so bad, that's all,'' Bryant said. "I just want it really bad.''Bryant,
playing like a man possessed, scored 40 points and the Los Angeles
Lakers, who have waited nearly one year for a chance to erase bitter
memories of a Boston beatdown and a championship they felt belonged to
them, pounded the Orlando Magic 100-75 in Game 1 on Thursday night.This year, nothing short of a 15th title will do for the Lakers.And with the sensational Bryant out front, they may be on their way.Game
2 is Sunday night at star-studded Staples Center, where actors Jack
Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and rapper Kanye West had front-row seats
to see another virtuoso performance by Bryant, who scored 18 points in
the third quarter as the Lakers opened a 26-point lead and embarrassed
the Magic.The last time the Lakers were seen in the finals, they
were heading toward their locker room in Boston last June and summer
break after being drubbed by 39 points in a series-ending Game 6 by the
Celtics. The renewed rivalry between the league's superpowers never
panned out.Bryant and his teammates have used that humiliation to motivate them all season and throughout these playoffs.They are on a mission.The
Magic, who went 2-0 against the Lakers in the regular season, appeared
a touch overwhelmed in their first finals appearance since 1995. Not
even the return of All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson from a four-month
layoff following shoulder surgery could help the Eastern Conference
champions.Orlando center Dwight Howard was engulfed by two and
three Lakers every time he touched the ball and scored 12 points - 10
on free throws - on just 1-of-6 shooting.And the Magic's outside
shooters, so deadly while eliminating MVP LeBron James and the
Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals, were off the mark.The Magic went just 8-of-23 on 3s and shot only 30 percent overall."We've
never had a shooting night this bad,'' Howard said. "We've just got to
come out and play a lot harder than we did tonight.''Orlando is facing some daunting odds, too.Lakers coach Phil Jackson, seeking a record 10th title, is 43-0 in series in which his team wins Game 1.Bryant, who added eight rebounds and eight assists, knows the Magic are still dangerous."This
is a resilient team,'' he said. "They've been through a lot of adverse
situations before. This is nothing new to them. We've got to forget
about this and move on.''On the dry-erase board in Orlando's
locker room, coach Stan Van Gundy, in handwriting as neat as a
schoolteacher's, devoted two sections on how he wanted his team to
defend Bryant.Nothing worked.The self-proclaimed "Black
Mamba'' slithered around Magic defenders with ease. Bryant scored an
effortless 18 points in the first half and then took over in the third
quarter, scoring 18 of L.A.'s 29 points with an assortment of jumpers,
fadeaways and layups."He was great. He was tremendous,'' said
Van Gundy, who felt his team did a poor job defending the Lakers' pick
and roll. "We were giving him too much space on his pull-up jumpers and
he did a good job of attacking us. I know this: We are a lot better
than we showed.''With the 24-second shot clock running down on
one possession, he froze Mickael Pietrus with a head fake and then
sliced between Howard and Rashard Lewis, who looked as if they might
applaud him, too. Moments later, Bryant whipped a pass to teammate
Trevor Ariza, who buried a 3-pointer to make it 80-58.Bryant
pumped both fists and yelled toward Ariza. But this time, Bryant, who
can be demanding of those around him, was offering support. Accused of
being aloof and selfish, he has become a better teammate and a better
leader.On the eve of Game 1, Bryant said winning his first title
since teammate Shaquille O'Neal was traded in 2004 was not that
important to him. Bryant bristled at the notion that he wouldn't have
any of his three titles - from 2000-02 - without Shaq as nonsense.He says he wants No. 4 because it's the one in front of him.And he's three wins from getting it."We've just got to keep our foot on the gas and keep our head down and just keep on working,'' Bryant said.Nelson
sat the first quarter as he has throughout the playoffs, but Van Gundy
started him in the second quarter and the healed guard made an
immediate impact.Nervously chomping on his black mouthpiece and
darting as always, he made a sweet bounce pass to Marcin Gortat for a
dunk on Orlando's first possession in the period. Nelson then set up
Lewis for a 3 before making his first basket in four months on a short
baseline jumper.Nelson was back and the Magic, who dethroned the
champion Celtics and toppled King James, looked as if they'd give the
Lakers a run.Bryant, though, is running his own race.Notes:
Bryant's 40 were a career high in the finals, and it was the 10th time
he has scored 40 or more in the playoffs. ... Van Gundy said the
toughest part of his decision to play Nelson was telling guard Tyronn
Lue he would be inactive. ... Bryant is ranked as the world's 10th
biggest celebrity by Forbes. Bryant was the second highest ranked
athlete, trailing only Tiger Woods, who was No. 5. According to the
magazine, Bryant made $45 million in salary and endorsements this year.
... With 206 playoff wins, Jackson trails only Hall of Fame hockey
coach Scotty Bowman (223) for the most wins in postseason history. ...
Van Gundy drew a huge laugh before the game when he was asked if he was
frightened by facing Jackson and his fingers full of nine NBA rings. "I
guess if one of the NBA players threatened to kick my butt, I'd be
intimidated,'' Van Gundy said. "Phil sitting down there on his chair
doesn't intimidate me.''

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