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 Ariza Sets the Tone, Fisher In the Clutch!

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PostSubject: Ariza Sets the Tone, Fisher In the Clutch!   Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:09 pm

ORLANDO, Fla.(AP) To this day, it is referred to simply as 0.4, the last-second shot that first made Derek Fisher famous.In Game 4 of the NBA finals, Fisher may have topped it.Twice.Fisher
hit two key 3-pointers - one with 4.6 seconds left in regulation, the
other with 31.3 seconds to go in overtime - as the Los Angeles Lakers
moved within one win of their 15th championship by beating the Orlando
Magic 99-91 on Thursday night to open a 3-1 series lead.The
34-year-old Fisher, in his second stint with the Lakers after stops in
Golden State and Utah, was best known for his turnaround fling with 0.4
seconds left in the 2004 playoffs against San Antonio. He's got two
more shots that rank right with it."Maybe 100, 101, something
like that,'' the 13-year-veteran joked. "No, I mean, obviously, it's at
the top. You know, even greater than 0.4 because I feel like we're as
close as possible to what our end goal is.''The Lakers can wrap
up their first title since 2002 on Sunday in Game 5. If necessary,
Games 6 and 7 would be back in Los Angeles at Staples Center.The
only way the Lakers, who overcame a 12-point halftime deficit in Game 4
and improved to 7-0 after a playoff loss, can be denied a crown is if
they lose three straight.That hasn't happened all season.The
Magic, commandos of the comeback in the postseason, need a rally for
the ages. No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the
finals."There's no reason for us to hold our heads down,''
Orlando center Dwight Howard said. "We will believe until there's no
more games to be played.''Howard was magnificent everywhere but
at the free-throw line. He scored 16 points with 21 rebounds and a
finals-record nine blocks. But he made just 6 of 14 foul shots, and it
was his two crucial misses with 11.1 seconds to go in regulation that
doomed the Magic.Orlando missed 15 free throws."I just missed them,'' Howard said. "I've been working on my free throws. They just weren't falling tonight.''After
Howard's late misses, Fisher pulled up and without hesitating dropped a
3-pointer over Orlando's Jameer Nelson with 4.6 seconds left to tie it
at 87 - and silenced the home crowd."I just sensed that was the
dagger,'' Fisher said. "That was the one that would put us in a
position to close out the game - even though the game wasn't over.''Before the first of his two big 3s, Fisher had missed his first five."He's
been there before,'' said Kobe Bryant, who had 32 points, eight assists
and seven rebounds. "He has been there and done that. That's Derek. He
just has supreme confidence and I think those shots at the end of the
game are actually easier for him than the other ones.''At the
end of regulation, Orlando had one final try. The Magic inbounded the
ball to Mickael Pietrus, but his long and contested jumper was off.Bryant scored two quick baskets in the overtime, and Howard tied it when he split two free throws with 1:27 remaining.On
L.A.'s next trip, Trevor Ariza grabbed his own miss to get another 24
seconds and Fisher lined up and drilled his 3-pointer from the top of
the key to make it 94-91.As he retreated down court and Orlando
called a timeout, the Lakers bench stormed onto the court and
surrounded the popular Fisher, who felt obliged to come through."I
have a responsibility to my team that if I'm going to be on the floor,
then I have to make a difference,'' he said. "None of us can continue
to expect that Kobe is going to save us.''In NBA finals history, only two players have made more 3s than Fisher's 40: Robert Horry (56) and Michael Jordan (42)."It's
character,'' said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, a victory away from a
record 10th NBA championship ring. "We've always said the character has
got to be in players if they are going to be great players. You just
can't draft it.''Ariza and Pau Gasol each had 16 for Los
Angeles. Ariza, traded by Orlando to L.A. in 2007, had 13 of the
Lakers' 30 points in the third quarter.With his team up by three
at the end of regulation, Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy felt it was too
early to foul the Lakers. With his team missing free throws, he didn't
want to get into a foul-shooting contest.Later, he regretted the decision."That one will haunt me forever,'' he said.The Lakers spent the first half in foul trouble, and left the floor at halftime down 49-37.They came back a different team."On a championship run, you're going to have moments where you make big plays,'' Bryant said. "And tonight was one of them.''

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