The Orlando Magic returned home and played like they owned the place -- which they do -- beating the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-104, to regain some respect and restore their sagging confidence.
The Lakers still lead the best-of-seven NBA Finals, 2-1, but the Magic suddenly think they can win it again. They were quick to remind everyone that the Miami Heat won the title in 2006 after losing the first two games.
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The Magic proved their resilience once more, bouncing back to win after a agonizing loss, much like they did against Philadelphia, Boston and Cleveland in earlier rounds.
As poorly as they shot in the first two games, they shot like the basket had grown wider than ever on Tuesday, hitting a Finals record 62.5 percent from the field.
"It was good to see the offense flow again,'' said center Dwight Howard. "When we're attacking like this, we're tough to guard.''
Howard was efficient at both ends. Instead of the seven turnovers in Game 2, he had only one, which made his 21 points and 14 rebounds look even better.
The Magic never trailed in the second half, but the Lakers never faded, either, finally tying the game at 99 with 2:40 remaining on a pair of free throws by Pau Gasol. But that was the best they could do against a much-more balanced team.
Rashard Lewis had 21 points. Rafer Alston had 20 points. Mickael Pietrus had 18 in reserve.
Pietrus and Howard combined for a huge defensive play when they forced Kobe Bryant into a turnover with :28 remaining and the Lakers were trailing by just two.
Although Bryant led everyone with 31 points, he finished poorly, with a turnover, a missed 3-pointer and a missed free throw all in the final minute. He had just 10 points in the second half and made only four of nine free throws.
"When the ball is going in 62 percent of the time, you're taking great shots,'' said Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy. "One thing you can't question is our resilience.''
Alston, the embattled Magic point guard, got the most improved player award, hitting eight of 12 shots. He made only three of 17 shots combined in the first two games in Los Angeles when he turned from Skip To My Lou to Shoot 'Til We Lose. Tuesday he was back on a roll.
The Magic shot an incredible 75 percent from the field (24 of 32) in the first half – another Finals record – but they needed every one of those baskets for the 58-54 halftime lead. Bryant kept his Lakers close with 21 points before intermission.
The Magic shot just 35.9 percent combined in the first two games of the series, but after Turkoglu missed the first shot of the game, they didn't miss many others in those first two periods.
The Magic made it look like a layup line by getting great ball movement, making extra passes and always find someone open, which explained their 17 first half assists.