It was another night in which the Lakers' game came down to the wire this season, and for the second time this year, they came away with victory, winning 106-103.
Anthony Davis continued his dominant start to the season, scoring 26 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. D’Angelo Russell had a strong start and made some notable big shots late, finishing with 28 points on 10-14 shooting.
It wasn’t the prettiest night for LeBron James, who finished with 19 points on 17 shots and had more turnovers (5) than assists (4). He had some timely buckets, but his showing might lend more credence to him resting on back-to-backs moving forward.
The purple and gold had a decent offensive showing, but it was turnovers, a lack of 3-pointers and second-chance points that kept the game close. The Lakers committed 16 turnovers and Orlando turned it into 20 points. The Magic also knocked down 14 long-range efforts to the Lakers’ eight and had a huge 20-4 advantage in second-chance points.
But it was LA that got the big stops late to move to 2-2 on the year.
The song and dance was a bit different on Monday as the Lakers actually got out to a strong start. D’Angelo Russell had himself an opening quarter, punctuated by a poser dunk — yes, a POSTER DUNK — over Paolo Banchero.
The strong start allowed the Lakers to battle back-and-forth with the Magic before grabbing control midway through the quarter and leading the rest of the way, the advantage reaching its largest after a Russell layup in the closing minute at 29-22.
An even better start to the second quarter saw the margin grow to double digits after Gabe Vincent, who hit his first 3-pointer as a Laker in the first half, knocked down a jumper to put the hosts up 35-24. The lead hovered around double digits until a big 17-4 run from Orlando, fueled by Gary Harris turning into Michael Jordan, saw them zoom right by the Lakers and into the lead at the half.
Orlando maintained control of the game early in the third quarter, a 7-0 run that included a Franz Wagner 3-pointer being the biggest evidence of that as Orlando pulled ahead 80-72. Out of a timeout, the Lakers responded with their own 9-0 run, highlighted by four points from LeBron, to take the lead into the final frame.
It was a short-lived lead, though, as Orlando moved back in front, a spot they remained in for the majority of the quarter. The sloppy Lakers continued to pile up the turnovers and Orlando continued to make them pay for it.
But, once more, the Lakers had a late run in them as baskets from AD and LeBron, the latter a long-range effort, gave the hosts a 101-100 lead with two minutes to go.
Jalen Suggs and Russell traded 3-pointers on ensuing possessions to keep the Lakers ahead. Empty possessions from the Lakers left the door open, but a big stop by Davis and two huge free throws from Russell were enough for them to survive.
The positive is that the Lakers had a much better shooting night on Monday, one of the better ones of the season. LeBron, realistically, was the only Laker who didn’t have a good night shooting from the field, though that’s also grading Reaves’ performance on a curve from his first three games this season.
That makes the turnovers all the more frustrating. Orlando did not shoot all that well for much of the night and their points came in bunches. But the Lakers handed away baskets all night long, whether through turnovers or second-chance points.
Add in the Magic actually knocking down 3-pointers and the margin quickly adds up. I will take full blame for jinxing this Lakers team’s 3-point shooting, seemingly.
It was one step forward offensively in some ways and one step back in others. It came in a victory, which is the bit of solace, but there’s still things to work out.
The schedule does not remotely get easier for the Lakers as they meet the Clippers on Wednesday. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. PT with the game shown on ESPN.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.