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Orlando counts cost of defeat

THE Orlando Magic enjoyed the bittersweet experience of successfully slowing down Kobe Bryant, but failing to prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from taking a 2-0 lead in the National Basketball Association finals series on Sunday.

Bryant amassed 29 points in the 101-96 overtime win, but only found the target on 10-of-22 shots and was far less a force than the man who scored 40 points and single-handedly took over the opening game of the best-of-seven series.

"I didn't think Kobe had a good game at all as far as his standards go," Lakers coach Phil Jackson told reporters of his star shooting guard.

"They double-teamed him, they trapped him, they came on all his drives, and we didn't adjust to it immediately.

"We were able to find other guys that did things for us."

The Magic cut off Bryant's driving lanes by having all of their defenders following the 11-time All-Star's every move but it was not quite enough to emerge with a victory.

"I didn't read the coverages as well as I did, and we still managed to win the game," the 2008 league MVP admitted.

"It's on me to make those adjustments, make those reads.

Quarterback throws

"It's just like the quarterback throws an interception every now and then."

The victory in Los Angeles gave the Lakers a comfortable lead before the series heads to Orlando, Florida, for the next three games, if necessary.

Only three teams have ever come back from a 0-2 deficit to win the NBA finals but the last was only three years ago when the Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks in six games.

If Orlando is going to make this a series, it will have to regain the shooting touch that saw it stun Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Magic shot nearly 42 percent on Sunday, better than they did in their blowout loss in the series opener but still not good enough to win four of the next five games.

Turnovers also went some way to preventing the Magic from earning a split of the opening two games.

"Turnovers was the reason we lost the game tonight," Magic forward Rashard Lewis said. "We had 20, and I don't remember the last time we had that many turnovers.

"We created a lot of fast break points for them. If you turn the ball over against a good team like the Lakers, they're going to take advantage of it."

Seven of those turnovers were by Orlando's All-Star center Dwight Howard. Like the Magic did on Bryant, the Lakers surrounded him when he put the ball on the floor.



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