Orlando, I’ve got some good news, and some bad news…

— THE GOOD NEWS FOR ORLANDO —

The good news for the Orlando Magic is they can play like that again. Perhaps they won’t break a Finals record for shooting percentage (62.5%) again, but they can definitely replicate the play that won them game 3.

More good news? Their confidence should be higher having done it already.

Even more good news? The Magic now has more than just theories on how to beat Los Angeles, they have game film they can study, learn from, and improve upon.

— THE BAD NEWS FOR ORLANDO —

The bad news for the Orlando Magic is that, even with record-setting shooting, they were only up by 2 points with 0.5 seconds left to go in the game.

More bad news? Kobe Bryant is not likely to choke like that again. It would be presumptuous to credit the Magic’s defense for Kobe’s poor performance. Kobe has been shooting 90% from the free throw line in the playoffs, and shot just 50% in game 3… it’s not like the Magic were defending Bryant as he shot free throws, the guy was off.

Even more bad news? Lamar Odom isn’t likely to play that poorly again in game 4 either. As Odom’s back injury has gotten better, so has Lamar. Lamar Odom averaged 19.5 points and 11 rebounds in the last two games of the Western Conference finals against Denver, and averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds in the first two games of the Finals.

— LOOKING TO GAME 4 —

Even if the Magic are able to play another game like their record setting game 3, and even if the Lakers make no adjustments to their game plan, the Lakers are likely to win just by having Kobe and Lamar playing up to par, but it would also be nice if:

(1) The Lakers did a better job rebounding the ball. It’s one thing for a team to shoot 62.5 percent, it’s another thing to give them additional shots at that high percentage by failing to grab rebounds.

(2) Get the ball to Gasol. Yes, the Magic shot a record breaking 62.5 percent in game 3, but that also happens to be Gasol’s shooting percentage for the entire series. Well, okay, Pau is just shooting 62.1 percent, but Gasol is the ultimate team player: if he doesn’t have a shot he’ll pass it back out, but at least give him touches.

(3) Quit making such a deal about Kobe coming down with a temporary case of mortality; Jordan didn’t always come through for the Bulls either. The other Lakers need to step their games up — or at least play all the minutes they are on the floor.

For some perspective, Andrew Bynum is in the first year of a $58 million contract. Magic Johnson made $46 million over the course of his entire career.

It’s high time these guys stopped making excuses and started making plays — on both ends of the court. No one feels sorry for you, so stop your whining and get to work.

You think it’s bad how much business executives are getting paid for their substandard performance… either these NBA role players better start earning their money, or start cutting us fans some rebate checks… cause there is no way their pay reflects their value when compared to the likes of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Just because they are in a different era doesn’t mean they are ENTITLED, it means they have an added obligation to bring value, and bring it on both ends of the court and frankly on the bench by keeping your head and heart in the game.

Kobe is beat. He went from carrying a team into the 2008 playoffs, to playing deep into the Finals, to going to TeamUSA and shocking the world’s best with his work ethic, to carrying the Lakers through a 65 win season, and has endured an especially physical playoff run to the 2009 NBA Finals. He is going to be injured if the Lakers aren’t careful. It’s time to talk to those role players and get them to magnify their roles, particularly in the first half.

— STILL SIGNS OF LAKERS A.D.D. —

By the way, for the 2nd game in a row, the Lakers gave up over 30 points for just 1 quarter. They really need to play all 48 minutes and quit taking spells off.

— SPEAKING OF STEALING PAYCHECKS… —

There is NO WAY the refs would let Kobe Bryant defend Courtney Lee as physically as they are letting Lee defend Kobe. I’m tired of the pathetic officiating in the NBA; they are an embarrassment to all professional sports.

Yes, this is a hard game to officiate, but as long as David Stern’s goons insist on FINING those who discuss officiating, rather than FINDING ways to improve it, all they’ll do is draw increased headlines to the problem.

There are real things that can be done that aren’t even being tried, which begs the question: why doesn’t the NBA want to improve it? Would it make officiating harder for them to tilt?

— THE BOTTOM LINE —

The Lakers have taken the best the Magic had to give, and measured up so closely that it seems likely that the parade will be in Disneyland this year, not Disney World.

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