ORLANDO – The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic 96-87 at Amway Center in front of a sold out crowd.
LeBron James had a triple- double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for Los Angeles. It was his sixth triple-double of the season. His 2019 counterpart, Anthony Davis, put in 15 points, and 12 rebounds, and also added 2 blocked shots to his stats.
Orlando, who opened the game with a dreadful 9 points in the first quarter, were led by Jonathan Isaac (19 points), Evan Fournier (18 points), and Aaron Gordon (14 points), who all fought and snapped to keep the Magic competitive.
The Magic managed to fight back and eventually erase a 24 point deficit and tie the game at 71 on a 3-pointer from Michael Carter-Williams with 10:48 left in the game.
“They got their hands on a lot of basketballs tonight,” said Laker’s forward Anthony Davis “It allowed them to get out in transition and get a lot of easy buckets and cut the lead down.”
It was James who was the deciding factor, accounting for every point in a 10-0 run that broke the 71-71 tie early in the fourth quarter.
There was a fight in the game in the third quarter that resulted in Wes Iwundu of the Magic, and the Lakers Jared Dudley getting ejected.
The Magic start of the game was rough. Steve Clifford’s brief post-game press conference tells the story.
“That first quarter is us not understanding who you’re playing against or what our team has to do to play well,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.
“I just told the guys this, we started the game as if we never had a shootaround this morning, never talked about the Lakers … you can’t turn it over and you’ve got to be physical on the glass and make good rebounding decisions so that you’re back and we did none of those three things and it took us 10-to-11 minutes to get locked into what we had to do,’’ said Clifford, “After that, we played fine. We made too many mistakes. Our post defense, there were two big mistakes – one on LeBron and one on Anthony Davis and those cost us six points.”
In the end, yes the Magic had another terrible start, and yes, the Magic fought and battled back. In the end, as LeBron James has proved over and over against this team, the thing that matters most is how you finish the game.
All of those comebacks and exciting plays and dunks don’t amount to a hill of beans if you don’t leave the floor with a win.
The Magic developed that mentality last year, and hopefully they can develop that mentality this season.