Lakers Overcome Third Quarter Collapse, Subdue Magic

And with this, the regular season is half over. After thwarting the Orlando Magic 98 to 92 tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers go to 32-9 and head roadward with the NBA's best record intact. The win, at home against a Magic team that appears to be cracking apart, wasn't as tidy as we might've liked. Kobe Bryant particularly had a rough time, and the offense as a whole went through a nasty stretch in the third that put us all on upset alert. But the bench, of all things, rescued the Lakers from the abyss, and Pau Gasol closed the night strong to help ring up the W.

Befitting a matchup with a true brand-name opponent, the Lake Show looked awfully sharp when the curtain rose. Derek Fisher, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom combined to make four of five three-point attempts in the first period to put our boys up eight. Orlando didn't have its act together early. In the first period, they turned the ball over four times and didn't take an offensive rebound. Good shooting by Matt Barnes off the bench and a Dwight Howard who somehow discovered a Tim Duncan bank shot steadied the Magic enough to withstand the Lakers' initial push.

In the second Orlando got the turnovers under control, and Laker shooting predictably cooled off. Howard scored 10 points in the period. Andrew Bynum's defense was actually pretty sound. Dwight was just showing excellent touch and using his strength to get establish good angles. His counterpart in superstardom didn't fare so well. At half Kobe was only 2-for-6 with a pair of turnovers. I didn't notice him struggling with either his back or his finger. Mickael Pietrus and Rashard Lewis both just showed well on D and generally denied him clean looks. Most of the Lakers' offense in the second quarter came from Shannon Brown, who poured in 11.

In the third, the Lakers came pretty close to blowing the whole deal. Their defense was fine - Orlando scored 1.05 points per possession in the period - but oh dear... that offense. Sweet holy crap was it terrible. The Lakers went 10 straight possessions without scoring, allowing the Magic to build up a nine-point lead. As a team they had an Effective FG% of 23% in the quarter. Only when Brown and Jordan Farmar were reinserted with about three minutes to play did the comeback begin. Those two brought TEH AWESOME tonight. Their defense and sweet shooting energized the sagging home crowd and ultimately buried Orlando.

Down the stretch the offense came back to life. Brown and Farmar did their thing, Odom worked the offensive glass, and Gasol carved up the Magic in the middle. Orlando hit enough late threes to keep us watching until the end but after their lead fell apart, they never again made a serious run.

A hidden factor in tonight's win is how well the Lakers took care of the ball. They turned the rock over on less than a tenth of their possessions. Even when you're not shooting well, that puts a floor under your offensive production. The Magic don't force turnovers very well as a team, and the Lakers did a fine job of exploiting that weakness. Turnovers are something you don't really think about when they're not happening.

Off to Cleveland we now go! A victory there on Thursday night puts the Lakers a big leg up in the race for home-court advantage. It's gonna be juicy.

 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

PPP

Magic

91

14

0.19

60

0.40

51

34

51

53

20

76

1.01

Lakers

91

8

0.25

73

0.20

45

33

46

50

24

80

1.08

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