The AP reports: Kobe Bryant, playing like a man possessed, scored 40 points and the Los Angeles Lakers, who have waited nearly one year for a chance to erase bitter memories of a Boston beatdown and a championship they felt belonged to them, pounded the Orlando Magic 100-75 in Game 1 on Thursday night… Not even the return of All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson from a four-month layoff following shoulder surgery could help the Eastern Conference champions. Orlando center Dwight Howard was engulfed by two and three Lakers every time he touched the ball and scored 12 points—10 on free throws—on just 1-of-6 shooting… The Magic went just 8-of-23 on 3s and shot only 30 percent overall… Bryant, who added eight rebounds and eight assists, knows the Magic are still dangerous.
The AP reports: Bryant usually waits until the final quarter to close out his opponents but he buried the Magic with an 18-point third quarter in front of a sellout crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center on Thursday. “I was taking what they gave me. They want to back off and give me a shot, I am happy to take it,” Bryant said. “We wanted to keep our energy up and make sure we stayed the aggressor.” Pau Gasol had 16 points and Lamar Odom 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who trying to make amends for losing in last year’s final to the Boston Celtics. Bryant, who wants to prove he can win an NBA ring without former Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neal, showed once again that he can raise his level of play and intensity with each new playoff series.
The AP reports: The Lakers shot 46 percent from the field and 15-of-18 from the free-throw line as they smothered Orlando’s three-point shooters. The Lakers took the lead for good 34-33 on a Bryant jump shot with 7:05 left in the first half.
The AP reports: Stan Van Gundy surely wanted to put his hands over his eyes in the fourth quarter Thursday night as the Los Angeles Lakers mopped up what was left of his Orlando Magic. He had seen more than enough of Kobe Bryant, more than enough of a surprisingly tough Laker defense that kept Superman from getting airborne. “There was nothing I liked,” Van Gundy said. “What was there to like?” David Stern might have said the same thing. The NBA commissioner did his best just before the game to hype the finals as a fitting climax to one of the league’s best seasons ever, though he was probably secretly waving the pom-poms for the Kobe-LeBron matchup that never came.
The AP reports: All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson returned to the Orlando Magic for Game 1 of the NBA finals, playing the entire second quarter before struggling in the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night. Nelson finished with six points on 3-of-9 shooting in 23 minutes of the Magic’s 100-75 loss. “I thought he played well in the second quarter. I was happy. I thought he was getting in the paint on his pick-and-rolls,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I thought he was making really good plays.”