The 2009 NBA Finals is remembered as a near-domination from start to finish by the Los Angeles Lakers. After all, they defeated the Orlando Magic in just five games. That almost was not the case, however.
After the Lakers won the first two games of the series at Staples Center, the Magic took Game 3 in overtime on their homecourt behind Dwight Howard’s 21 points and 14 rebounds. The Magic found themselves ahead of the Lakers again late in Game 4, which was played June 11, 2009.
Orlando led by 12 at halftime, thanks in large part to Howard’s ferocious defense in the pain; he would finish with 21 rebounds on the night. The Lakers fought back behind Trevor Ariza’s 13 points in third quarter, eventually leading 69-63.
However, the Magic fought back and took an 87-82 lead in the fourth behind two clutch buckets from Hideo Turkoglu. He went on to lead the Magic with 25 points.
Pau Gasol scored to bring the Lakers back within one possession, but a Kobe Bryant foul on the other end gave Howard a chance to ice the game with free throws. But Howard missed them both, giving the Lakers a chance.
With the clock ticking down, Ariza passed the ball to Derek Fisher, who once again came through in a clutch moment. Fisher’s 3-pointer tied the game and eventually sent it into overtime.
The Lakers took a quick lead in overtime behind two baskets from Bryant, but the Magic came back to tie the score at 91. Bryant took the ball again, and Orlando double-teamed him in the post. Bryant saw Fisher wide open and passed to the point guard for another huge 3-pointer.
Orlando did not score again, and the Lakers escaped with a 99-91 win. Bryant finished with a game-high 32 points along with 7 rebounds and 8 assists. Gasol and Howard each recorded double-doubles, with the former chipping in 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Fisher, who had gone 0-for-5 from three-point range before his final two shots, finished with 12 points. The Lakers clinched the series three days later behind another 30-point effort from Bryant.
It would mark their first championship since 2002 and the fourth of Bryant’s and Fisher’s careers.
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