The Los Angeles Lakers went into Saturday night’s game as heavy favorites against the Orlando Magic, but instead they were blown out 130-117 in the first game of their Florida back-to-back, with a furious attempted comeback led by Lance Stephenson and Svi Mykhailiuk in garbage time making the game look closer than it was.
Coming off of arguably their most impressive win of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Lakers came out of the locker room looking like a shell of the team fans saw on Wednesday. It looked like it might have been their night in the first quarter, but they were outscored by double digits in the second and third quarters.
LeBron James put up big numbers, nearly notching another double-double with 22 points and 7 assists to go along with four rebounds, however, those numbers are empty because he ended with a -11 box plus-minus. In fact, only Svi Mykhailiuk and Michael Beasley finished with a positive box plus-minus.
While some of that can be contributed to the Lakers missing a key rotation player in Rajon Rondo, it had more to do with the team’s lack of energy. Even against a young and shaky team like the Orlando Magic, raw talent can only carry a team so far.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. For the fourth game in a row, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished in double figures, and Lance Stephenson and Mykhailiuk looked good as the team attempted a too-late comeback.
With Rondo sidelined for at least the next month, having Caldwell-Pope show sings of life would provide the second unit a pretty substantial boost especially if he can get his 3-point shot to fall, as would Stephenson and Mykhailiuk being able to give the team a few good minutes.
Brandon Ingram also looked comfortable running the second unit in spurts and finished with 7 assists. If he can act as the Lakers’ de facto point guard on a consistent basis, it will limit less desirable options from having to be the focal point on offense.
Also, Svi got some run in garbage time. If Svi played, did the Lakers really lose? (Editor’s Note: Yes. They got crushed.)
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Lakers, who will try to bounce back against the Miami Heat on Sunday.
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