Everything went right for the Lakeshow. Patrick Beverley had his best game as a Laker with 14 points, including going 4 for 10 from deep. The Lakers dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Magic 45-37, and Russell Westbrook had himself a game with another monster triple-double added to his resume.
He ended the night with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists, and tied Detlef Schrempf for the most triple-doubles off the bench in NBA history (3).
The Lakers didn’t establish dominance but mostly controlled this one from the start of the game. Beverley had nine points in the first, going 3-6 from three. Currently shooting a career-low 30% from three, watching Pat Bev hit threes to jumpstart the offense was a breath of fresh air.
Small silver lining from the last 2.5 games is definitely Pat Bev rediscovering his shot. I wonder if that hamstring thing he was on the injury report with a few times is finally behind him.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 28, 2022
Darvin Ham continued to experiment with his small-ball lineups, but tonight the Magic were unable to punish the Lakers as the unit of Austin Reaves, Wenyen Gabriel, Russell Westbrook, Troy Brown Jr. and Max Christie closed out the first quarter giving the Lakers a six-point advantage.
But it’s common knowledge that the Lakers have been awful in the third quarter of games. L.A. was tested in the third once again when the Magic went on a 9-1 run midway through the quarter to cut the lead to five. This time, though, they countered instead of folding.
It was a genuine team effort, with everyone on the floor contributing. Wenyen was grabbing rebounds, ending the game with 6 boards; Reaves scored a corner three and executed a beautiful behind-the-back lob to James, electrifying the Laker fans in Orlando and (essentially) securing the win.
Throw it up and let LeBron throw it down! pic.twitter.com/f2b9pyAo4t— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) December 28, 2022
In the fourth, the result was a foregone conclusion. The Lakers never let up and continued to apply pressure throughout the quarter. Brown Jr. scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth; Russ was rocking the baby, and a couple more Bron buckets put this game in the refrigerator.
Orlando has been a place where the Lakers have done a lot of winning. From the 2009 Championship won against the Magic, the 2020 NBA Championship hosted in Orlando, to tonight’s win. Yes, Monday’s victory pales compared to those other moments, but getting a win just feels good when a team is going through a difficult time.
The good vibes for L.A. may be short-lived, however, as they have another game tomorrow in Florida, heading to Miami to face the Heat. We’ll see if they can start a win streak in that one.