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Magic bounce back in NBA Finals

Dwight Howard

NBA highlights - Magic bounce back

Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis each scored 21 points as Orlando defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 108-104 to trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

Lakers star Kobe Bryant looked set to continue his dominance of the series with 17 points in the opening quarter.

But he went on to hit only 11 of 25 shots, missed five of his 10 free-throw attempts and committed four turnovers.

Bryant also fouled Mickael Pietrus, who then sank the game-clinching free-throws to give the Magic hope.

Game four also takes place in Florida, on Thursday, as the Magic look to become only the fourth team to recover from 2-0 down to win the finals.

And Howard believes the Magic can do just that.

"We didn't allow being down 0-2 to discourage us from winning," he said.

"We're going to continue to fight. I told my team-mates, 'You've got to continue to believe'. We've had two tough losses, but things will turn around for us if we continue to believe."

It was a solid performance by the home side with Howard hitting five of six shots and collecting a team-leading 14 rebounds.

The team trusts me to come through in those situations, and it just didn't happen

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant

Point guard Rafer Alston contributed 20 points, as they set a record in the championship round by connecting on nearly 63% of their shots.

"We played with more speed, more energy on the offensive end," said Alston.

"We were able to get down the floor, push it, a lot of pick and roll, which is our game.

"The bad thing is we shot 62.5% and almost lost the game, so we've got to find a way to defend these guys."

The Magic squandered a nine-point lead midway through the fourth quarter but held on to win.

Lakers forward Pau Gasol hit two free-throws to level the scores at 99-99 with a little under three minutes remaining, but a Pietrus basket and a foul shot by Alston gave the Magic a 102-99 lead.


And when Bryant uncharacteristically turned the ball over and then fouled Pietrus, the Magic swingman kept his nerve from the free-throw line to seal the win.

"It was disappointing," said Bryant, last year's Most Valuable Player, who is looking for his fourth championship victory.

"I'm used to coming through in those situations, the team trusts me to come through in those situations, and it just didn't happen."

Bryant was restricted to just 14 points in the last three quarters of the game as the Magic defence toughened up.

"They really started coming hard to him," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

"Howard was consistently coming at him on shots, making it difficult. He never really got in rhythm again the same way."

And Jackson conceded that Bryant's poor foul shooting played a huge part in the loss.

"Those are the kinds of things that change a game," he said.

"This is a very unusual thing, Kobe shooting five for 10 after hitting 14 in a row at the end of the game the other night. That's a difference maker."

Courtney Lee

NBA highlights - Plays of the day

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