Coming off an inexcusable loss against a shorthanded Indiana Pacers team, the Los Angeles Lakers turned it up in the second half to pick up a much-needed win over a rebuilding Orlando Magic squad to begin their road trip.
LeBron James was the game’s leading scorer once again as the 37-year-old poured in 29 points on an efficient 12-of-23 shooting, including a couple of vintage lobs that showed off his elite athleticism. James also added seven rebounds and five assists as well as a steal and a block, a sign of his activity level on both ends of the floor.
While James led the Lakers in scoring, it was Carmelo Anthony who turned the tide of the game in favor of the team as he caught fire from the field.
After missing all five of his 3-point attempts against Indiana, Anthony found his shooting stroked as he hit 8-of-13 of his attempts and 4-of-5 from distance for 23 points off the bench. His perimeter shooting was sorely missed as Los Angeles often turned to him whenever they needed a basket.
It was also a bounce-back game for Russell Westbrook, who has been mired in a rough stretch as of late. Westbrook didn’t close out the game against the Pacers, and instead of pouting, he turned any frustration into production against the Magic. Westbrook played with the same verve and reckless abandon that he usually does and it resulted in a solid 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Westbrook looked much more aggressive when attacking Orlando’s defense, and though he had a few turnovers, it was good to see the point guard resemble his normal self.
Dwight Howard started the game in order to counter the Magic going with the seven-foot Mo Bamba, but head coach Frank Vogel decided to start Stanley Johnson in the second half in order to spruce up the defense. The move did wonders as Johnson’s ability to switch out on the perimeter made life difficult for the Magic, and the young forward’s 3-point shooting was an added bonus.
Johnson would end the night with 11 points, five rebounds, two assists, and one block.
For Orlando, Jalen Suggs led the way with 22 points and nine assists while Wendall Carter Jr. followed with 19 points off the bench. The scrappy Magic team led the Lakers by eight at halftime but had no answer for the veteran team in the second half.
Next up for the Lakers
The Lakers’ second game of their six-game road trip will not come as easy as their first as they head to South Beach to take on a peaking Miami Heat team. Things do not get any easier after as they will then play the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.
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