As good as LeBron has become, Kobe Bryant showed why he is still the best player in the game.
Kobe scored 40 points, grabbed eight boards, and dished out eight assists to lead the Lakers to an impressive 100-75 win in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Bryant got off to a good start against Courtney Lee, then kept right on rolling against Mickael Pietrus. He attacked Lee in the post and used his mid-range jumper to score repeatedly against Pietrus.
The Magic played awful.
Dwight Howard made just one basket – a hook shot in the first quarter – and finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds. He didn’t play well defensively either, as the Lakers scored 56 points in the point.
Hedo Turkgolu and Rashard Lewis struggled all night. Orlando shot a woeful 29 percent from the field in the game.
Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum helped the Lakers dominate the boards, finishing with a 55-41 advantage.
The big story coming from this game was the return of Jameer Nelson.
Nelson got off to a good start, entering the game in the second quarter and dishing out four assists in his first four minutes. However, the Magic were outscored by 12 with him on the floor in the first half. Rafer Alston had an awful game, but was only -6 in the game compared to Nelson’s -19.
Stan Van Gundy went with his heart instead of his head in deciding not to play Anthony Johnson behind Alston.
The Magic probably won’t shoot this poorly again, but need to shore up inside play. Orlando wasn’t a good rebounding team in the regular season and doesn’t give Howard much help on the glass.
Stan Van Gundy hates double-teaming, so don’t expect him to double Kobe in Game 2. He needs to make adjustments to better defend Kobe off the pick n’ roll.
I hope Game 2 is closer and more exciting. I enjoyed the broadcast on ABC – I thought Jeff Van Gundy did a great job of being objective throughout the broadcast even while watching his little brother get his ass kicked.
Game highlights and postgame reaction still to come.