Sure the Magic beat the Lakers on Tuesday night, 108-104, shooting an NBA Finals record 75 percent from the floor (!) in the first half. But does this really make it a competitive series? I hesitate in that regard until I hear from a definitive source, like Shaquille O’Neal’s Twitter feed. So let’s check … OK, Shaq says that we can pay attention now, and that’s good enough for me.
Orlando’s 63-percent field goal shooting performance for the game (also a Finals record) is impressive to be sure, and the Magic avoided going 0-7 lifetime in Finals competition, which of course would have been the dreaded Plutonium Sombrero. But there’s another, sobering way to look at things if you’re a Magic fan: Your team set two NBA Finals records for floor shooting, and you still only won by four, and the game came down to the final possession. That can’t bode well. Shaq, any thoughts on that in 140 characters or less?
Five guys in scoring double figures for Orlando, including 18 for Mikael Pietrus off the cushioned folding chairs. Our friend Dwight Howard, shown above, had 21 points and 14 rebounds. And how about Rafer Alston, who had been 3-for-17 from the floor combined over the first two games, but went 8-of-12 for 20 points with four assists on Tuesday? For his part, Kobe Bryant looked wan and thirsty, after the first quarter anyway. He made eight of his first 11 shots but finished 11-of-25 with 31 points, 5-of-10 from the free throw line. Plus, he got picked inside of the final minute with his team down 2, losing control near the top of the key with Pietrus finally ending up with the ball.
Pau Gasol had 23 points, in what I’m sure the Lakers are chalking up as the traditional gimee for the home team — a sacrifice unto David Stern so that the television ratings don’t take too much of a flogging. Of course Magic fans see things in a much different, audacity of hope kind of way. A pivotal Game 4 awaits to answer most of those questions. Anyway, the least this means is that the series won’t end on Friday.
And look: an Adam Morrison sighting!
By the way, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that there should have been goaltending called on the final shot in Game 2 in Los Angeles, when Gasol’s hand hit the rim on Courtney Lee’s layup attempt with 0.6 seconds remaining. NBA officials disagreed with that assessment, however.
Meanwhile, Charles Barkley is pointing out that Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and porn star Ron Jeremy have never been seen in the same place at the same time. Which would be funny, if Barkley hadn’t have said the same thing more than a year ago. With all of that time in the slammer, you’d think that Charles would have had the opportunity to write some new material.
And now, for your dining and dancing pleasure, we present the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, who will be playing a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Flightless Sea Fowl extended the drama with a 2-1 win on Tuesday behind goals by Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy, who both play on the third line, which I’m told is significant by people who know things about hockey.
Shaq has been curiously silent about this on Twitter.
I suggest that the Penguins forget about the fact that no visiting team has won a Game 7 in the NHL Finals since Richard Nixon was President (first term, no less), and focus on the positive.
The Red Wings won the Cup by taking Game 6 in Pittsburgh 3-2 last year but were denied a second successive clincher there, and on the 25th anniversary of one of the biggest days in Penguins history: the drafting of Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux in 1984.
Fun fact: Detroit has outscored Pittsburgh 11-2 in the three games in Joe Louis Arena.
But let’s leave the breakneck-paced, highly cynical world of professional athletes for a moment and take a look at a more innocent side of sports. There we find news that a Little League coach in Arlington, Washington has been accused of using members of his team to burglarize a local business. George Spady Jr., 31 (pictured above), was charged with second-degree burglary.
Court documents say he took his son, a nephew and another player from the team when he broke into a vacant Arlington shop and took overhead lights and some bolts. … According to court documents, George’s son was the first to go in through a vent behind the building. He then unlocked the door and let the others in.
Wasn’t this the plot to “Oliver Twist“?
It should be noted that although the children were used to commit larceny, their actions were fundamentally sound (lookouts posted, no fingerprints or other evidence left at scene, etc.). Just as in baseball, teamwork and a fierce dedication to detail are important in any thievery endeavor. In short, kids, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
And now through the magic of Wizard Cat, some other links to astound and delight you.
- The Vikings have “temporarily suspended” their pursuit of Brett Favre, who did not report to mandatory team activities on Tuesday. They say that his signing is still a possibility, however.
- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is spearheading an NBA/NCAA-backed effort to clean up and organize youth basketball. The initiative is called iHoops, and will endeavor to certify and train coaches, establish networking centers and unify leagues. Banning zone defense would be a good place to start.
- The Washington Nationals did the expected and took right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft. The Mariners then tabbed North Carolina slugger Dustin Ackley. But you knew all that because you were glued to the TV set for the entire thing. Um, right?
- Your new Sacramento Kings head coach is … Paul Westphal, who previously coached the Suns and SuperSonics. He’s only the Kings’ fourth head coach in just more than three years.
- Nick Montana, who will be a senior at Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, Calif., this coming season (and whose father quarterbacked the San Francisco 49ers, as I understand it), has committed to the University of Washington.
- We were THIS close to seeing Jimmy Johnson on “Survivor.” He was denied at the last minute for health reasons. Darn the luck.
- Former Chelsea head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has signed a two-year contract to coach in Uzbekistan, for some reason.
- Is Tim Floyd’s exit through the back door at USC because he is guilty of illegal basketball shenanigans? Yes, most likely.
- Red Sox beat Yankees 7-0, are unimpressed with fan’s Bluegrass stunt.
- Fred Smoot — pro bowler. This could happen, people.