ORLANDO – This was one of those nights. No, not one of those 30-point deficit nights, the was one of those “well where have these guys been” nights.
The Orlando Magic, actually challenged the Los Angeles Lakers before succumbing to the reigning NBA world champions 114-103 at the Amway Center on Monday night.
Chuma Okeke had a real coming out party, not because of his steady 18 points, but a rim rocking dunk over Andre Drummond that was sure to make the Sports Center top 10. The normally quiet seeming Chuma was ferocious, and clutch for most of the night. With 7 of 12 shooting and going 3 for 5 from deep, Okeke was a surprising force for the Magic.
The Magic really hung with the Lakers for most of the night, including a 40 point second quarter and went into the half leading 56-50, surprising almost everyone in the house.
Balanced scoring by the Orlando Starting five, as well as Robert Franks (10 points) kept tings going for the Magic. Okeke lead all Orlando scorers with his 18 points, followed by Gary Harris with a clutch 17, and Cole Anthony, who was a controlled floor general and 15 points.
The Lakers were lead by Dennis Shroder with 21 points and 10 assists, yet another great night for Schroder in the Amway Center. Anthony Davis scored 18 for Los Angeles but is still trying to find his rhythm after being out for months due to injury.
Montrezl Harrell, also back on the floor after an absence, was ready to go and had a physical game against the Magic. Harrell was called for a foul in the fourth quarter and pleaded to his coaches for a replay, which they chose not to.
After the Magic made the free throws, Harrell made them pay when they returned to the Lakers end of the court with a thunderous slam dunk fan the paint and a searing stare at the Magic players.
It was clutch shooting by Davis and Shroder that put the game out of reach for Orlando in the later minutes.
LeBron James, who thanks a local high school in the afternoon for allowing him to use their facilities, was in the house, cheering on his team mates. He is due to return to the floor soon.
Assistant coach Ty Corbin is stepping in for Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford as he goes through health and safety protocols. According to Corbin, these guys always have something to play for.
“There’s always something to play for. As a player in this league, you are always playing for who you are, first of all. You are playing for your team…You are trying to build your career and make sure that your reputation as an individual player is (a) guy who is going to continue to fight. If there’s minutes on the clock, game’s going on, you are going to fight and that’s what organizations want to see and that’s what you should want to see in yourself as a player.”
The Magic head to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Wednesday Night.