RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
The Los Angeles Lakers are halfway to the NBA title. Last night in L.A., the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 101-96 in overtime to take a two-games-to-nothing lead in the finals. The first team to four wins. NPR's Tom Goldman was at the game, and he joins us now from here in L.A.
TOM GOLDMAN: Hi, Renee.
MONTAGNE: So a lot better game than game one, when the Lakers blew out the Magic by 25 points. Did Orlando have chances during this game to win?
GOLDMAN: They did. They had an excellent chance at the very end of regulation time in the game. With 6/10s of a second left in regulation, the score was tied at 88, and Orlando Coach Stan Van Gundy drew up a great play. Hedo Turkoglu inbounded the ball on the sideline and lobbed the ball toward the basket. Magic guard Courtney Lee went up, caught it, and had a lay-in that he shot too hard off the backboard and just missed.
Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, who was guarding Lee, was screened by an Orlando player to free up Lee. Bryant could only trail the play and watched helplessly as the shot went up. And afterwards, he was asked what he was thinking at the moment, and Bryant responded with a well-known four-letter expletive that starts with F.
MONTAGNE: Well, before the game, though, Van Gundy was criticized for bringing back a point guard, Jameer Nelson, who'd been injured and who had been out for several months. And there was a lot of questions about bringing him back into the finals when every play is so important. So did that hurt them?
GOLDMAN: It did. And, in fact, the situation got worse last night. Van Gundy continued to split time between Nelson and Rafer Alston, the person who had filled in for Nelson when Nelson was out with his injury. Neither guy was effective. They missed open shots, as did all the Orlando guards, for that matter.
For big chunks of the second half, Van Gundy had both Alston and Nelson, his point guards, on the bench. And he went with a line up where Hedo Turkoglu, his 6'10" forward, was playing point guard. And here's what the always colorful Van Gundy said about the different groups he put on the court.
Mr. STAN VAN GUNDY (Coach, Orlando Magic): I'm not sure I got another line up to throw out there that you haven't seen now. We played big. We played with no point guard. I mean, you know, what do they say? You just keep throwing stuff at the wall, hope something sticks.
GOLDMAN: Ah, yes, Renee, the rocket science of NBA coaching.
MONTAGNE: Well, okay. So on to game three tomorrow night in Orlando. Do the Magic have a chance?
GOLDMAN: Well, Orlando is a good comeback team. They're very resilient. But L.A. isn't going to make it easy. Orlando has to try to get back to the freewheeling, no pressure play that led the Magic past Boston and Cleveland in earlier rounds in the playoffs. And Orlando players have to hit their open shots, otherwise this series will end Thursday in a four-game sweep for L.A.
MONTAGNE: Well, let's quickly in the seconds we have, turn to one other big moment in sports: Roger Federer.
GOLDMAN: Very exciting yesterday. Federer won his first French Open, beating surprise finalist Robin Soderling in three sets. That gives Federer 14 Grand Slam titles, ties him for the lead with retired American Pete Sampras. Federer also became the sixth man to win all four major tournaments in his career: the French Open, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open.
Now, Federer had slipped from his number one ranking over the last year when his rival Rafael Nadal beat Federer in the French, Wimbledon and Australia Open finals. And I'm not sure if you remember, but in the Australian Open final earlier this year, Federer broke down crying afterwards, saying, God, this is hard, talking about losing again to Nadal.
GOLDMAN: And there were tears yesterday, but tears of happiness and relief that he no longer had the pressure of not winning the French and not being able to break through for a 14th Grand Slam victory. He did both emphatically.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Tom Goldman covers sports, speaking to us from here in L.A.
Thanks very much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
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