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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

Magic turns up the heat on Lakers

If Orlando continues to shoot like this, it could be a long series.

June 10, 2009|MARK HEISLER | ON THE NBA

ORLANDO, FLA. — On second thought, we'll take the weekly rate.

So much for the overlooked phase of this series. Reeling back here from Los Angeles, the Magic turned back into its torrid-shooting self, upending the Lakers, 108-104.

Thus ended the Lakers' hopes of a quick knockout. Now they're here through Sunday, on a target range, in the midst of a folk movement.

"It's Magic hysteria," said Pat Williams, the franchise's first general manager, and the winner of three lotteries, finally celebrating the first Finals victory, 20 years after its arrival.

"Nothing galvanizes a community like sports. Mickey Mouse couldn't do it. Shamu couldn't do it. Goofy and Pluto had their shot."

After icing up in Games 1 and 2, the Magic came home, thawed out an extra shooter or two, made 75% in the first half, and 63% overall, both Finals records.

"When the ball goes in, those look like really good shots," said Orlando Coach Stan Van Gundy, deflecting any praise, as usual.

"When the ball's going in 63% of the time, yeah, those look like great shots."

The Lakers wish the Magic just knocked down a lot of bad shots on a hot night.

Actually, Van Gundy and his players have figured out how to run an offense, after Phil Jackson and the Lakers took Dwight Howard away from them.

Now, the Magic players wait for the Lakers to jump on Howard in the post, or on pick-and-rolls, and throw the ball to whomever they leave.

Howard scored 21 points Tuesday but got off only six shots, giving him 22 for the series.

Not that it inconvenienced the Magic this time, with Rashard Lewis scoring 21, Rafer Alston 20, and Hedo Turkoglu and Mickael Pietrus getting 18.

As if emerging from a hangover, the Magic had to get past the goaltending controversy after Game 2, when Pau Gasol touched the net on Courtney Lee's miss on what could have been the game-winning shot.

The same story about it ran in The Times and the Orlando Sentinel, members of the Tribune chain, although with different treatment.

Our headline was: "Controversies arise over goaltending non-calls."

In the Sentinel, it was "Fans upset that goaltending gets free pass in Game 2."

Of course, if we bothered to put our T.J. Simers on it, the headline would have been, "Look what these yokels are sniveling about now."

Dispensing with the issue in one second, Van Gundy refused to take it seriously ("Calls didn't decide that game. . . . You're not going to get a complaint from me on that.")

Getting in a hole isn't recommended for a team jacking up as many three-pointers as the Magic does, but there it was, down, 2-0, with Kobe Bryant turning unreal, 17 points worth in the first quarter, and the Lakers off to an early lead....

After which the Magic shot the lights out in Central Florida.

Howard, asked afterward what kept them from getting discouraged, noted, "We might be one of the silliest teams you'll ever see."

This isn't a team, it's a roller coaster ride, and the Lakers aren't getting off just yet.

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mark.heisler@latimes.com

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