LOS ANGELES, June 8 – Kobe Bryant had 29 points and eight assists and Pau Gasol scored 24 points to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 101-96 overtime victory over the Orlando Magic in game two of the National Basketball Association Finals.Lamar Odom added 19 points for the Lakers on Sunday, who seized a two games to none lead in the best-of-seven championship series.
The Lakers won the first game 100-75 but the Magic made them work for the victory in game two.
Sunday’s game started out as a defensive struggle as the two teams combined for just 30 points in the first quarter.
They battled down the stretch exchanging base line drives, three-point daggers and crucial field goals.
"It was like a couple of heavyweight boxers that have gone against each other before," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "They’re just feeling each other out in the first round, second round, third round.
"Kind of looking for holes and the changes in the game. We stayed in the ball game because they turned the ball over and we had opportunities because of it."
Rashard Lewis scored 18 of his game-high 34 points in the second quarter and Dwight Howard had 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Magic, who were trying to gain a split in Los Angeles after being run off the court Thursday.
Hedo Tukoglu scored 22 points for the Magic, who had a chance to win the game with just under a second remaining but saw Courtney Lee’s shot off the glass bounce harmlessly away.
Game three is Tuesday in Orlando.
The Lakers are seeking their 15th NBA title while the Magic are hoping to win their first in franchise history.
Orlando’s coach Stan Van Gundy made adjustments in game two which paid off but the Magic suffered from too many turnovers and couldn’t step up their game in overtime like the Lakers did.
Orlando finished with 20 turnovers to just 12 for the Lakers.
Howard had seven turnovers but played much better than his disappointing performance in game one as he chipped in with four assists, four steals and four blocks.
"We got to make more of our three-point shots than we did," Van Gundy said. "It is amazing to me this was an overtime game. I can’t quite figure out how it was."
The Lakers shot 46.2 percent, including 24-of-28 from the free-throw line.
Odom and Gasol made key free throw baskets in the overtime as the Lakers went on a 7-0 run in extra time.
"In first half we kind of lost it a few times," Odom said. "I just tried to make some plays defensively and feel comfortable in my shot."
When Phil Jackson’s teams win the first game of a playoff series they are a perfect 43-0. Jackson is seeking his 10th NBA title, which would enable him to surpass Boston Celtics legendary coach Red Auerbach.
He had a chance to break the mark three times, including last year when the Lakers lost to the Celtics in six games.
Now that the series shifts to Florida, Jackson expects the Magic to feed off the euphoria of playing at home in their first finals appearance since 1995.
"You are going to see a much more wide open game," Jackson said of game three. "It is going to be free-flowing up tempo.
"It is going to be a big event in their town. We know there’s going to be a lot of energy surrounding their team.
"We are going to have to use all our centers and foul situations. I think they will be much better."