Orlando disappears in game one
STAPLES CENTER â€” So much for the Orlando Magic posing as a serious threat to the Lakers in their quest for their first NBA title since trading away Shaquille Oâ€™Neal 2004.
Playing with a chip on his shoulder the size of a 7-foot gorilla, Bryant also known as the Black Mamba played with vengeance and the Lakers defense bottled up Dwight Howard and took a 1-0 series lead with a resounding 100-75 victory on Thursday night.
Bryant exploded for 40 points, outscoring the entire Magic team during a run away third period and Lamar Odom had a double-double grabbing 14 rebounds and finishing with 11 points as the Lakers scored a game one knockout that Orlando may no be able to recover from.
Down playing the rout and saying all of the politically correct things afterwards the Lakers now turn their attention to game two on Sunday at home.
â€œWe expect a much better effort from them on Sunday,â€ said coach Phil Jackson, but as Pau Gasol and Odom, so can the Lakers improve on their performance.
A scary though for a Magic team that many experts predict would win the series.
However, the Lakers have seemingly put it all together at precisely the right time, winning three consecutive games in the post season and crushing any inspiration the Magic may have had after eliminating Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals.
Former Laker great Magic Johnson presented the ceremonial game ball and Jeffrey Osborne sang the national anthem to set the title tone that must be ringing clear in the ears of Bryant.
Bryant played with a scowl and told the media after the team that he has been grumpy at home as well focusing on winning a title on a team in which he is the lone star ranger.
The Magic â€˜Supermanâ€™ Howard only had six shot attempts and was reduce to just a side bar in a game that had the signature of the intensely focused and determined Bryant.
It left many ponder if the Magic will even win a single game in the series, although their coach Stan Van GundyÂ said, â€œItâ€™s just one game and one win for them,â€ it may have been one that Orlando may never recover from.