The Lakers won again on Wednesday night, this time taking down the Magic in Orlando, 96-87. It was the Lakers 5th straight win overall and their 12th straight on the road. They’ve still not lost a game away from Staples Center, a truly wild feat 25 games into the season.
Many of the Lakers wins this season have followed the formula from this game: the Lakers were good early to take a lead, gave a lot of that lead back with some questionable play, and then clamped down late to take control back in order to win the game.
We’ve seen this format so many times this season, when the Magic rallied back from 24 points down in the 1st half to tie the game early in the 4th quarter, I honestly wasn’t too worried. The Lakers were the better team, I thought, and they’d play like it soon enough. And they did. After the score was knotted at 71 with 10:48 left in the game, the Lakers outscored Orlando 25-16 and notched another W. Onto Miami.
The details of every game matter, this one included, but there really are no devil in these details. There’s no “a-ha!” moment that triggered a change in the flow of the game, no strategic card that was played to put the Lakers over the top. They simply turned up their defense, sharpened their execution offensively. The Lakers were the better team coming in, they played better down the stretch, they left the better team.
Nothing against the Magic. They played hard, if not always well. They needed that “well” part to be a larger portion of their output. It wasn’t. Ball game. I wish I had more to say about this one, I really do. I just don’t. Well, actually, here’s a few more things. My notes…
- Another triple-double for LeBron — 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He “only” shot 11-24 from the field, but that includes going 1-6 from behind the arc. 10-18 on 2-point shots, then, for LeBron, and many of those were right at the rim or in the paint on fading jumpers out of post ups. During portions of the game where the Lakers were struggling to find a basket, LeBron was there to get one (or set one up) which, it turns out, was super useful!
- After scoring 50 points in the game before this one, AD only had 16 on 6-20 shooting. He struggled with his jumper this game and even had a few (very uncharacteristic) misses around the rim. He did have 12 rebounds (4 offensive), 6 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks, however, which again shows how much he can impact the game even when not scoring well.
- With Kyle Kuzma out, Jared Dudley saw his first meaningful minutes in a while and did well with them. He hit 3 of his 4 attempts from 3, competed defensively, and did a bunch of Jared Dudley things, including coming to the aid of Dwight Howard during a minor scrum by shoving a couple of Magic players who were not too pleased with some of Dwight’s physicality after getting fouled on a play in the paint. Dudley was promptly ejected for “escalating” the confrontation, but in the process he again showed why he’s considered to be such a great teammate. Dudz isn’t going to let any teammate go at it alone in those circumstances. You love to see it.
- Avery Bradley returned from injury this game and I thought he did fine. His defense was good and his offense was not, but overall he looked okay and totally respectable considering the amount of time he’d missed.
That’s it for this one. See ya’ll again soon.