After giving their best performance of the season in an upset of the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers will look to build on that as they host the Orlando Magic in the third of eight straight games at home.
Kobe Bryant will sit out of the matchup with his sore shoulder so the onus to lead the team will again be on the Lakers’ young trio of Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle.
The Magic are on the second night of a back-to-back, losing to the Warriors on Monday. They have a young exciting backcourt of their own in Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, while Aaron Gordon has come on of late as well with his increased minutes. Orlando comes in at 27-35 while the Lakers are 13-51.
Both teams started slow offensively, but the Lakers grabbed an early 7-2 lead thanks to a couple of baskets from Julius Randle and a three from Clarkson. Orlando would quickly battle back behind Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton and took a four point lead after a 9-0 run capped off by a Payton three. Huertas checked in and immediately hit a floater to bring the lakers within two at 17-15. Oladipo continued his strong start with a three followed by a steal and dunk as Orlando pulled ahead by seven. Clarkson hit a three to up his total in the quarter to eight, but the Lakers trailed Orlando 26-20 after one quarter.
The Lakers started the second on a 7-0 run to re-take a one point lead. A coast-to-coast steal and layup for Russell and an offensive rebound and bucket from Larry Nance Jr. tied the game at 31, but baskets from Evan Fournier and CJ Watson pushed Orlando back ahead by four. Russell knocked down a three for his seventh point of the half, but the Lakers remained down by five after a pair of free throws from Watson. Clarkson lost Fournier with a beautiful crossover and knocked down a three to cut the lead to two, but Orlando again responded with five quick points to stay ahead by seven. A quick 6-0 run by the Lakers was matched by a 7-0 Magic run and a floater from Russell made it 51-45 Magic at the half.
Russell got off to a quick start with seven of the Lakers’ first nine points to bring the Lakers within one. A massive windmill dunk from Aaron Gordon put Orlando back ahead by four and both teams traded baskets for a couple of possessions as the Lakers remained down by two, 60-58. The Lakers finally took the lead on a Clarkson free throw and a Russell steal and finish upped his total to 20 points midway through the quarter. Things began to get a little chippy between the two teams as hard fouls and some pushing began to become regular occurrences. A three from Clarkson gave the Lakers a five-point lead with five minutes left in the quarter. Randle followed a beautiful baseline dunk with a steal and fastbreak dunk as the Lakers went ahead by seven. The Lakers continued their hot shooting but a nice jumper from Oladipo brought the Magic within seven, 84-77 at the end of the third.
Brandon Bass got the Lakers going in the fourth with a dunk off a gorgeous pass from Russell followed by a tough jumper to keep the Lakers up by seven. Huertas’ passing continued to be contagious as he hit Clarkson for a floater and Nance for a jumper that gave the Lakers a double-digit lead, 94-83. The Magic would fight back, however, cutting the lead to eight before the Lakers again responded to get the lead back to double-digits on a Randle layup. Clarkson hit a deep three with the shot clock expiring to give the Lakers a 15-point lead with under three minutes remaining as the Lakers finally began to pull away. Russell added a nice three-point play as the Lakers stayed ahead 107-92 with 1:44 left. The Lakers would win their second straight game 107-98.