The Orlando Magic surprised last night with a 130-177 win over the Los Angeles Lakers (8-7)in front of a full house at Amway Center.
The Lakers, new team of mega-star Lebron James, have been struggling on defense and are without starting point guard Rajon Rondo (hand injury). They did manage to come off of a four-game winning streak.
The Lakers sat James in the 4th quarter, as things started to get out of hand. James returns to Miami tomorrow to face his old team the Miami Heat and friend Dwayne Wade, followed by a return to Cleveland for the first time since leaving to LA in free agency in the offseason. He hopes stand-in point guard Lonzo Ball plays better in those games.
“After the first quarter, we were pretty bad defensively,” said James, “We had a lot of breakdowns, uncharacteristic of us as of late. But give Orlando credit. They put us in positions where they just kind of took advantage of not being in the right spots defensively,” James added. “There were a lot of things that hurt us tonight,” James said. “It’s not just one thing.”
Augustin delivered a season-high 22 points to go along with seven assists, and seemed to be in the middle of every key play, exposed the Lakers’ defense, hitting 7 of 8 shots over the second and third quarters. By the time Augustin was done flying by Lakers guards, the Magic were up 100-81 entering the fourth.
“I just take what the game gives me,” said Augustin who was 7 of 9 from the field, including 3 of 3 from the 3-point line. “I always go out there and look for my teammates, and make sure the offense is organized and make sure we’re taking care of the ball and making the right plays.”
Nicola Vucevic was a beast with an insatiable appetite for the net last night. Augustin fed Vucevic often, and the center poured in a game-high 36 points, including 16 in the third quarter, as the Magic took advantage of lengthy stretches where the Lakers tried to guard him with a smaller player.
With this win, the Magic, whose 130 points were a season-high, moved to 8-8, much better than the 2-6 record that had everyone wondering if this was going to be just another year of losing. They have won 6 of their last 8 games.
“We’ve been able to respond and play much better the last eight games,” said Vucevic. “But it’s early in the season and we haven’t accomplished anything yet. We can’t be satisfied at all.
“We know what works for us. We just have to keep it up.”
“So good win. I mean really good second quarter and third quarter, and then you know they downsized there at the end of the third,” said Magic head coach Clifford,
After a nine-point first quarter, James was held mostly in check, with Magic forward Jonathan Isaac providing key defensive minutes against him. Isaac said his goal was to keep James in front and make him take shots from the perimeter. The four-time league MVP had a difficult time getting much of any flow going.
“It was tough. Guarding him is tough,” said Isaac, who finished with a game-high five blocks. “I’m glad I did a good job. Just trying to stay in front of him and make him shoot those turnaround jumpers.”
Isaac swatted a career-best five shots – four of them in the second quarter. He added seven points and five rebounds to go with his five swats and stellar defense against James.
Orlando led by as much as 21 points early in the fourth thanks to the strong third-quarter play by Augustin and Vucevic. The Lakers made a late push and got as close as 118-108. Los Angeles closed to within 115-105 on an offensive putback by Michael Beasley with 4:34 to play.
Clifford went back to his starting lineup and Vucevic quickly converted a three-point play as the Magic worked to stem the run.
The Magic will be back in action again on Sunday when they play the second night of rare home/home back-to-back. Orlando hosts the New York Knicks on Sunday. Tipoff on Sunday is just after 6 p.m.