Out of Bounds with Jason Riley

The ball careened off the rim and into the hands of Pietrus, another clutch jumper missed by Kobe Bryant.

Magic, 87. Lakers, 82. 1:02 left.

By all indications, the Lakers were done. They were visibly weary and deflated from battling the Orlando Magic. The 17k+ packed inside of Amway Arena. The whistles, or non-whistles, of Bennett Salvatore, Mike Callahan and Scott Foster. The mounting pressure of not having won a Finals game away from Staples Center since 2002.

This was supposed to be the defining moment for the Orlando Magic.

The game that rattled the resilience of Kobe Bryant. That questioned the brilliance of Phil Jackson. That catapulted Dwight Howard into the stratosphere of greatness. That shifted the momentum of the whole series. In 8 months, the Lakers have played over 5k minutes spanning across 103 games. In just 62 seconds, they stormed into the fire, stole the Magic’ moment, and made it their own.

As Rashard’s wide-open dagger gracefully sailed through the air with 39 seconds remaining, Laker optimism may have been at its lowest point all season. For the first time in these Finals I considered the possibility that the Orlando Magic had a legitimate chance to shock the world. As Lewis’ shot glanced off the rim and into the hands of Derek Fisher, destiny had officially begun to take its course.

7 seconds later, Kobe spun into the lane and dropped off a no-look, over the shoulder pass to a streaking Gasol for a dunk.

Lakers down 3.

On the other end, Bryant wrapped up Superman, refusing to be just a helpless spectator as Dwight Howard hammered home the biggest dunk of his career. Howard got up off the floor, went to the line, and faltered under the pressure of the moment, missing both free-throws. Destiny continued its course.

Timeout Lakers.

The Lakers in-bounded the ball in the backcourt to Kobe Bryant. With just ten seconds to go, this was a golden chance for him to redeem himself from a pair of sub-par fourth quarters in Orlando. The defining game where he burns the double team, buries a contested 3 at the buzzer and gives the NBA a new commercial to run next season. It was Bryant’s legendary moment, and in just a split second, he displayed his growth as a teammate more than any other time in his career.

When the double-team came, Kobe stunned the Magic by instantly passing the ball ahead to Ariza. The Orlando trap had backfired and essentially given the Lakers a fast-break. Trevor swung the ball to D-Fish, Kobe’s most trusted teammate and the only other Laker with a ring. With the Magic on their heels and destiny weighing heavily down upon them, Derek Fisher stepped into rhythm and hoisted a 28-footer over Nelson.

Bang.

The heavily criticized Derek Fisher, in one snap of the wrist, buried the biggest shot of a career that has been highlighted by big shots; and along with it, the hearts of the Orlando Magic. The rest of the game seemed to be nothing more than a formality. Orlando appeared dumbfounded by what had just happened, and they closed the game by missing 7 of their last 8 shots.

We will all certainly remember this game because of Derek Fisher’s clutch performance. And in doing so, we cannot forget that lost in the shadow of Fish’s grand moment, was Kobe Bryant’s. During the closing seconds of the game, Kobe stepped out of history’s spotlight, and by doing so, rightfully placed himself right back in it.

Jason Riley is a columnist for the Lakers Nation. In addition to this column, he writes on an array of topics that you can check out by visiting J-Ri.com. You can email him by clicking here, look him up on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter for in-game coverage.

  • imfasterthanur

    Great article. What a way to sum up the most important 62 seconds of play for our beloved Lakers.

  • djbreakdown

    I got goosebumps from reading that one. Great article

  • mplakers

    definitely one of the best articles i have ever read on this site. great job.

    let’s go lakers!!!!!take it! take what is righfully yours!!

  • pio2u

    “The Fish that saved LA!”

  • lakerferlife7

    Fisher has been and always will be one of my favorite lakers of the last 10 years…

  • lainok

    well written. they are getting better and better each week.

  • Mike KB24

    possibly the best 62 seconds i have seen as a laker fan

  • KB24ForLife

    GREAT article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=595552596 Yoke Lee

    Didn’t even realise it was 62secs….great article!

  • pauu

    thats how you write an article!

    and thats how you win game 4!

  • Nabil

    Wow. GREAT article. Thank you!!! :)

  • ytrewq

    cool

  • lakerschamps-09

    awesome article…great job

  • ywan

    this defines our destiny…go lakers

  • BEC

    Good article. I love how you pointed out how “Kobe stepped out of history’s spotlight” because Kobe of easily made that his moment. Kobe could of easily split hedo and pietrus and go ahead and take that last three by himself. He made the right play by trusting Ariza and Fisher to make the play. It was a great a win.

  • Dwight Howard

    I can’t stand the Lakers, but I have to agree. This is a damn good article. Good job Riley.

    By the way, Magic men will take game 5. See you in L.A.

  • 242LakerFan

    Man, this was poetry. This is a snapshot in a season of destiny, brilliantly captured and emotionally charged in its delivery. The Kobe spotlight line is a classic. Great job!

  • Joseph

    we the lakersnation declare a moratorium on sushi consumption on June 11 hereafter known as Big Fish go Swish go-Fish Day!

  • MeloMamba

    it gave me goosebumps also, just reliving that moment is crazy, thank u Fish for those heroics, they might have Superman, but ill take Derek (IronMan) Fisher’s clutch shooting anyday

  • MR. JUAN_YOUR WARLOCK

    [Comment ID #75870 Will Be Quoted Here]

    Me too!!!!!! I get goosebumps thinking about MeloMamba. ;)

  • valunski

    awesome!!!! mamba will own game 5!

  • lakerman1

    Love to relive great Laker moments. This one ranks right up there with the rest. The Robert Horry shot against Sacramento, the Fisher .04 shot against San Antonio, the 4th quarter comeback against Portland. The great moment Sunday will be when the Lakers win the Title in Orlando. So many great moments so many more to come.

  • LakerHater – NOT!

    Add me to the “goosebumps” crowd, please! =P

    Very well-written. I sincerely hope that the team will read this and be inspired.

    I told the bf today ( as we were watching Kobe Doin’ Work, again) – I can watch Laker games over and over again and never be bored.

    They should definitely do a re-run of Game 4, no? Maybe before game 5! *wink*

  • WatWudChickSay? (WWCS?)

    Nice. Back on track again.

    Game 5 hinges on whether the Magic have any pride: part of them has to know that if they win Game 5, their reward will be a 5 hour flight to their demolition in Game 6 in LA, getting to watch the hometown fans go nuts, getting to hear the crowd at Staples chant “MVP, MVP….”.

    I am pretty sure that the Lakers will be focused in Game 5, but I am not sure which Magic player can get his teammates zeroed in on winning that game, and I certainly have a feeling that SVG won’t have his players’ attention.

  • Big Dick Nick

    Adding up the free throws in all 4 finals games the Magic has shot 31 more free throws than the Lakers. Lets hope we get better officiating in game 5…

  • Shmarla