Monday, June 8, 2009

Lakers Have The Magic

Talk about nut-cuttin' time. The Lakers hardened. The Magic cracked.

Los Angeles leads 2-0 in the NBA Finals.

Orlando looks lost after its 101-96 loss Sunday.

And L.A. fans who survived that cruncher can relax. Until Game 3 Tuesday in Florida.

The NBA Finals, where heart attack happens. I about had one during Game 2. Went nuts during Lamar Odom's cavalry charge in the fourth quarter. During Courtney Lee's missed chance. During Kobe's dish to Gasol. Pao? No, Pow!

And while focusing on these two guys:

1. Andrew Bynum. Man, could he lock this series. Every Laker fans is thinking what radio analyst Dean Merrill said Monday:

"If Andrew Bynum can stay on the floor, we have ourselves a sweep."

But no. Any Magician gets near him, and Bynum takes offense. Throws an arm, something. And before you say "Don't!" he's on the bench with two fouls.

That forces Phil Jackson to devise a multiplayer D against Dwight Howard.

If Bynum could stay in the middle, L.A. would blanket Orlando's long-range bombers. And coast. Yes, his benching means Odom flies in with his super game, but he could be spotting other guys.

One more point on Jabbar's 7-foot project. Notice how everyone's reaction to a Bynum flub is "he's still young"? I'm tired of that. He's been a pro three seasons. He's 21. His moment is now. Seize it.

2. J.J. Redick. Who? The old Dukie? The same.

Just when Laker fans got nervous that Jameer Nelson was righting the Magic ship, coach Stan Van Gundy yanked him for (1) Rafer Alston, drifting this deep in the playoffs, then (2) Redick.

That sigh you heard was from 15 million L.A. fans. Whom was Redick going to stop? Did Gundy expect this guard who had done nothing in Game 1 to light it up? I'm still waiting for answers, and it's almost Tuesday.

No question Gundy is a sharp guy. Won with Miami before Pat Riley knifed him. Won with Orlando after Billy Donovan bailed.

But like Redick, Gundy looks out of his league. Running the other team is Phil Jackson, he of nine NBA title rings. As Merrill said on the air Monday, "Phil always takes a team as far as it should go."

It should go all the way now. And it will. Jackson's record 10th ring is on the way.

And this: Jeff Biggs on KLAA's "The Drive" radio show suggested Monday that Vlad Guerrero should slide to sixth in the Angels' batting order. Good for the team, said Biggs, and "Vlad would understand."

Would he? I haven't heard Guerrero speak English the six years he's been in Anaheim.

Bucky Fox is an author in Southern California and editor of

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