NBA: Lakers closer to title with 99-91 win
By Tom Withers
ORLANDO, Fla. ó Kobe Bryant is one win from an NBA title to call his own.
Derek Fisher got him there.
Fisher forced overtime with a 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left in regulation and then drilled another one with 31.3 seconds to go in overtime as the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Orlando Magic 99-91 in Game 4 on Thursday night to open a 3-1 lead in the NBA finals.
It was the first time since 1984, when Magic Johnson’s Lakers and Larry Bird’s Celtics hooked up, that two games in a finals have gone to overtime.
When the clock expired, Bryant, trying to win his first championship without Shaquille O’Neal, looked at Tiger Woods and wiped sweat from his brow in relief. Fisher, who has bailed out the Lakers in plenty of big games before, thrust both arms in the air in triumph.
The Lakers can wrap up their 15th title on Sunday night in Game 5.
Bryant finished with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Trevor Ariza and Pau Gasol each had 16 for Los Angeles, which came back from a 12-point halftime deficit. Ariza had 13 of the Lakers’ 30 points in the third quarter.
The Lakers are 7-0 following a loss in this postseason.
Unless they can force a Game 6, the Magic will remember this as another finals game that got away.
Dwight Howard was magnificent everywhere but at the free-throw line. Orlando’s superman of a center had 16 points, 21 rebounds and a finals-record nine blocks. But he made just 6 of 14 foul shots, and it was his two crucial misses with 11.1 seconds to go in regulation that doomed the Magic.