Lakers looking to make Magic vanish

Kobe Bryant has changed his look. Gone is the teeth-baring, nose-flaring, eyes-on-the-prize scowl that the Los Angeles Lakers star showed again and again in Game 1 of the NBA finals.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24).

ORLANDO, Fla. — Kobe Bryant has changed his look.

Gone is the teeth-baring, nose-flaring, eyes-on-the-prize scowl that the Los Angeles Lakers star showed again and again in Game 1 of the NBA finals.

The intensity diminished after Game 2, his expression morphing into one of relief and sheer luck.

A botched layup by Magic rookie Courtney Lee is perhaps the biggest reason why these finals are not tied and why Bryant isn’t smiling even with his team up 2-0.

That level of seriousness might be cause for Orlando to grimace.

The Magic nearly returned from Los Angeles with the best-of-seven series tied. Instead, they’re down 2-0, and now Bryant has a promise for Game 3 tonight.

“We’re about to kick it up,” he said.

“You’d better believe it. We’re close. You see what I’m saying? This is the finals. We’re going to be ready to go.”

For all the bravado, the Lakers can be careless, a team with holes and an inability to finish off an opponent as a champion must.

They let Houston extend a series despite the absence of Yao Ming. Denver outmuscled and outhustled a Lakers team that seemed to lose its enthusiasm until Game 6 of the conference finals.

Los Angeles believes those days are over.

“We’re playing tougher,” forward Pau Gasol said. “We understand what it takes to go get the championship.”

This is a franchise closing in on its 15th title. It is facing a Magic team still searching for its first finals victory. Bryants insists this is no time to get comfortable.

“What’s there to be happy about?” he asked. “The job’s not finished.”

The Magic have had their shots — one in particular — to change the series.

Lee missed a wide-open, alley-oop layup that would have won Game 2 at the fourth-quarter buzzer Sunday night. It was another chapter in a long history of Magic misery, one that now has them 0-6 in finals games.

Call it the “alley-oops.” This mistake, however, might hurt the most.

Orlando has been able to come back from seemingly every heartbreak this season — injuries, four last-second losses in the playoffs and series deficits in two rounds. But this could be too tough a challenge. Only three teams have won a title after losing the first two games in the finals, most recently Miami over Dallas in 2006.

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month