[QODLink]
Sport
Lakers on the brink of glory
Three-point heroics from Derek Fisher put Los Angeles on the edge of NBA victory.
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2009 09:21 GMT

Derek Fisher hit crucial three-pointers when it counted [GALLO/GETTY]
The Los Angeles Lakers snatched a 99-91 win over Orlando Magic in overtime to move to the brink of their 15th NBA Championship title.

The long-range shooting of Fisher powered the Lakers to a big win in Florida, as he hit a 25-foot three-point shot with 4.6 seconds left in regulation and then nailed a 27-footer with just over 30 seconds left in overtime to give the Lakers a 94-91 lead.

Pau Gasol scored the remaining five points to seal the win.

Big plays

"On a championship run you're going to have moments where you just make big plays, and tonight was one of them," said Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who scored 32 points.

"The guys stepped up. That's what the journey is about."

The Lakers lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 and can wrap up their first title since 2002 with a victory on Sunday in Orlando.

Bryant led the Lakers with 32 points but the 11-times All Star and 2008 Most Valuable Player was not at his best, hitting only 11 of 31 shots.

Gasol and Trevor Ariza each added 16 for Los Angeles.

The Lakers got out of jail when Orlando All-Star centre Dwight Howard missed two free throws with 11.1 seconds left in regulation with the Magic leading 87-84.

Had he made even one of the free throws, the Magic would likely have levelled the series at 2-2 and been in the hunt for their first title.

Misfiring

"I just missed them," said Howard, who misfired on eight of his 14 free-throw attempts.

"I've been working on my free throws. They just weren't falling.

"There's no need to get down on myself. I think I did a lot of good things tonight, just free throws weren't there.

"Not just for me but for everybody."

After a time out the Lakers worked the ball upcourt and found Fisher open on the wing, and the veteran left-hander calmly sank the game-tying, three-pointer.

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said his decision not to foul the Lakers when they were bringing the ball upcourt in the waning seconds of regulation "will haunt me forever."

"We gave him so much space to shoot the ball," he said of Fisher's game-tying shot.

"We played like we were trying to prevent the lay up.

"We did a good job, we denied Bryant the ball, and then we just didn't play Derek Fisher, just didn't guard him."

Hedo Turkoglu paced the Magic with 25 points, while Howard added 16 points and 21 rebounds.

Orlando committed 17 turnovers and hit only 22 of 37 attempts from the free-throw line.

Dwight Howard gets some last minute advice from head coach Stan Van Gundy [GALLO/GETTY]
Down to the wire

"We had it but just kind of slipped away because of our stupidness," said Turkoglu.
"We can't be really down on ourselves, no matter what. Win or lose tonight, we have to win the game on Sunday."

Ariza scored 13 in the third quarter when the Lakers recovered from a 12-point deficit to take a four-point lead into the final frame.

The Magic went down by six in the final quarter, silencing the crowd of more than 17,000 at the Amway Arena, before rallying down the stretch.

Orlando are now hoping to become the first team to win the championship after facing a 3-1 deficit.

"There's no need for us to hold our heads down," said Howard.

"We were always fighting and will believe until there's no more games to be played.

"We've been in some tough situations, but as a team we've always found a way to come back."

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
join our mailing list