The Magic played nearly flawless basketball, shooting an astounding 63% from the floor. Five Magic players scored at least 18 points, and Rafer Alston looked like he was a legitimate player (for once). Pietrus went French M.J. on a few shots, and most of the bounces went the way of the home team. A normally cash money Kobe missed five of his ten free throw attempts, and the Lakers had multiple late-game brain freezes. Despite all of these positive factors, the Magic only led by two points with 0.2 seconds left in the game.
After game two, I thought the remainder of the series was a formality. Despite the ultimate outcome of game three, this feeling only got stronger. The Lakers played pretty well, but the Magic played out of their minds. I'd venture to guess Orlando won't have another record-breaking game of 63% rain. I'd also bet Bryant doesn't miss 5 of 10 free throws again in this series. Every key player on Orlando's roster played well, and nobody on Los Angeles' roster exceeded expectations (save Jordan Farmar). Simply put, Orlando hit their historical peak and Los Angeles was at best slightly above their average.
To me, this game provided the most concrete evidence that the Lakers are a better team than the Magic. Orlando played the best they could possibly play, on their home court, against an average Laker performance. Yet they still barely won. This game provided the most concrete evidence that the Magic may hang around for a bit, but they aren't going to win the series. If anything, I expect a split in the 4/5 set and a trip back to L.A. with the Lakers up three-two. If so, the Magic would need ninety-six minutes of game three basketball to win the series. Not happening.