Here are some quick and random thoughts after Tuesday night’s Game 3:
* Somehow, someway the Magic found themselves ahead when the buzzer sounded at the end of Game 3. A historic display of shooting in the first half wasted by shoddy defense, 17 first-quarter points for Kobe Bryant, a failure to take control of the game in the second half, a blown lead in the last few minutes, a barrage of missed L.A. 3-pointers in the final seconds, and a confusing sequence where the confetti came down from the rafters despite there being .2 seconds left on the clock aside — it’s all good. The Magic won their first-ever game in the NBA Finals. Enjoy it.
* A very nice crowd; comparable to Game 6 against Cleveland. I have one beef, though — despite the Magic putting a free blue or white shirt on every seat, the matching T-shirts were not worn by everyone and scattered across the stands. When the Magic gave away shirts in the past, almost every fan put the shirt on and it looked really, really cool. Why not for the NBA Finals? It seems a lot of true fans were priced out.
* Rafer Alston scored 10 points on 3-of-17 shooting in the first two games. The third game? 11 points in the first quarter. I’ve never seen a player play so differently on the road and at home.
* The Lakers have completely shut down Orlando’s fast-break and transition game. They’re keeping two and three guys back at all times, and it’s shutting down the Magic’s most effective scoring tool: open three-pointers in transition. The Lakers are incredibly organized and under control; certainly a tough defense to crack so far in this series.
* After struggling offensively for a significant stretch during the fourth, the offense came alive at the end with a tip-in by Mickael Pietrus and a huge two-pointer from Rashard Lewis. These guys stepped up when the team needed a basket. Then, seconds after I finish typing that sentence, Lewis gets his shot blocked after a motionless possession.
* Mickael Pietrus hit two big free throws with 28.7 seconds left to put the Magic up 106-102. Pressure doesn’t get to MP — 4-to-1 odds he doesn’t even know this is the NBA Finals.
* Lewis picked up where he left off in the last game, hitting two nice baseline jumpers with Pau Gasol defending. But clearly the Gasol-Lewis matchup favors Los Angeles. The Magic are the first to budge by subbing in Tony Battie for Lewis midway through the first quarter.
* The Lakers played nine players in the first quarter, and ten if you count the first 12:01 of the game.
* After Magic fans had been yelling at Magic Johnson for much of the first half, he turned to the fans and pretended to put on a puppet show.
* Through 22 minutes, Pau Gasol had one rebound. How does that happen?
* It seemed like the Magic were pulling away in the third and fourth quarters, but the Lakers kept hanging around by six or eight points. They hit big shot after big shot to keep themselves afloat. That’s what good teams do.
* For the record, Woody tweeted that Magic fans doing the wave during a timeout in the third quarter was “a joke.” I’d like to take this time to give my support to the Magic fans, because they stopped the save before play resumed.