Ryan Kelly led the charge early for LA, scoring 8 points on 2-6 shooting with both of his makes being three pointers. However, the main reason that Los Angeles was able to get out to an early lead was their much maligned defense, which held the Magic to 20 points on 33.3% shooting, albeit with the Orlando missing some easy shots right at the rim.
The Magic made a run in the second quarter to cut the lead to as close as 6 behind Luke Ridnour's 10 points on 4-7 shooting after entering off of the bench, but the Lakers pushed back and ended the half leading by 9. The Lakers starting frontcourt of Kelly, Jordan Hill, and Ed Davis led the way in the first half for LA, combining for 26 of the Lakers 54 points. Kelly had 3 triples, and Davis had 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and affected a swath of other Magic attempts to help hold Orlando to 37.5% shooting. When they weren't forcing Magic misses, the Lakers were able to generate takeaways (led by Jeremy Lin's 4 steals), forcing 10 Magic turnovers in the first half while only coughing it up 6 times on the other end.
This careful ballhandling would not continue in the third quarter, as the purple and gold turned the ball over 4 times in the period, allowing the Magic to get easy transition baskets. LA was still able to hold onto a 6 point lead heading into the fourth period, but then Tarik Black entered the game, and the next in a long line of great Lakers' centers was revealed. Not really, but the newest Lakers acquisition was very impressive when he entered the game for the first time late in the third quarter. In his 17 minutes, the former Kansas Jayhawk stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 1 block on 4-4 shooting and 6-7 from the charity stripe; almost all in the fourth quarter to put away the game for the Lakers (much to the delight of their dancing fans). Carlos Boozer was also helpful for LA off of the bench, scoring 12 points to go with 14 rebounds for a double-double. Jeremy Lin rounded out the productive performance for the Lakers reserves with 18 points of his own to go along with 6 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks, and 5 turnovers. The only Laker who really played badly was Nick Young, who continued his recent slump by shooting 2-13 from the field tonight, and 0-6 from the perimeter. Maybe Swaggy needs a rest now too?
The Magic simply could not get anything going tonight in this battle of two of the association's worst squads, shooting only 39.5% from the field to further emphasize the gap between the talent level of the NBA's two conferences. Even for those hoping for a loss on this night to add to the "lead" the Lakers had on the Magic in the standings, it still had to be nice to see LA's young players get minutes in the absence of Kobe Bryant and Wesley Johnson. The Lakers next run up against a Blazers team on Sunday, a team they were one Damian Lillard explosion away from beating earlier this week. We will have to see if the result will be different now that the Lakers have a closer of their own, and how Kobe Bryant adjusts to this now being Tarik Black's team.