They are going about their business and saying all the right things. As a fan, I am smiling a little more now. Despite how close game two was, I feel more confident after that game than I did before it started, and not just because of the 2-0 series lead. Or because the Lakers won a game playing ugly. Or because a bunch of people in the media are writing tonight “hey, maybe that Pau Gasol guy isn’t soft.”
It’s because some fundamental things that make Orlando go have not worked for two games in a row, while other things are going our way:
• The Orlando pick and roll is not really working all that well for them. As was noted before the series, a lot of times Orlando runs that just to try and get the defense scrambling, leading to an open three. But the Lakers are keeping their shape, defending that well. Not scrambling. (The threes Orlando got was because the Lakers decided to double Howard more in the third, which didn’t work out.)
• In game two, Orlando had two fast break points. The Lakers have stifled their transition game. That will be much harder to do on the road, but they have done a good job so far.
• The Lakers made some poor shot choices and still won. To quote Darius: “I thought we were undisciplined in the way that we took too many long jumpers. Sure, those shots were open, but in game 1 those were shots that we passed on to look inside instead.”
• Fisher is playing pretty well again. Not great on defense, but there is no healthy Nelson to make him pay for that. Orlando guards were 6 of 26 on the night.
• Stan Van Gundy literally threw everything he could think of at the wall in game two — he went big, he went without a point guard for the last nine minutes of the game, he hired a Shaman to curse the Lakers (okay, maybe not that). And he is 0-2. There are adjustments that Orlando can continue to make, but you get the feeling that they don’t have a magic bullet here. They will not be swept as at least one game a few of those shots will fall and they will get some hometown calls.
But do you really think they can win four out of five from the Lakers?