The Los Angeles Lakers arrived at the Amway Center for a Friday showdown against the Orlando Magic. The Lakers only road game against the Magic this season would mark the end of the seven-game trip, with the Lakers coming in with just one win and five losses.
Head coach Luke Walton elected to start the contest with D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, Brandon Ingram, Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov. The starting lineup differs drastically from that of Magic head coach Frank Vogel.
Vogel has gone to his enormous starting lineup consistently this season, with D.J. Augustine, Jodie Meeks, Aaron Gordon, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo.
Coming into the contest, Walton announced that Tarik Black, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. would be unavailable. Randle returned back to Los Angeles to be there for the birth of his first child, while Nance Jr. continued recovering from a bone bruise.
Also, Black continued to nurse his sensitive ankle injury. With the two key forwards and Black out, it meant that Ivica Zubac and Thomas Robinson would continue to see a spark in minutes.
Coming into Friday, the story for the Lakers was how the team was able to get off to such hot starts, only to falter as the game continued on. However, the narrative would be much different against the Magic. The Lakers were outmatched in the paint early on and had trouble finding their matchups in transition.
The Lakers quickly fell behind 10-0, starting off the game cold offensively. Nick Young would score the first bucket for the team, hitting a three-pointer just over five minutes into the game.
Both Ibaka and Biyombo were a problem for the Lakers, as they both protected the rim and got five early blocks. Walton would be forced to use his bench early, as Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams, and Zubac would see early minutes.
With Gordon at the small forward position, the Magic would continue posting up to get easy buckets in the paint. Whether it was Deng, Ingram or Young guarding Gordon didn’t seem to matter.
While the Lakers adjusted to stopping the points in the paint, they lost their matchups trying to help each other out. Without much communication on the court, the Lakers continually lost the three-point shooters, as Meeks and Augustine knocked down three early three-pointers.
With less than three minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Lakers trailed 19-5. The Magic continued their impressive first quarter, as Gordon knocked down two free throws and a three-pointer in consecutive possessions.
Upon back to back lay-ups by Zubac, the Lakers avoided their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season. After one-quarter, the Magic held a 30-14 lead.
The Lakers came out strong to start the second quarter, scoring six straight points after a Magic free throw. However, after a Clarkson floater, the team failed to get back on defense, as Biyombo was left open for an easy dunk.
The bench scoring would come into play early in the second quarter, creating opportunities on offense. Upon a Clarkson missed floater, Robinson followed for a one-handed putback dunk. However, the Lakers would continue to have trouble getting stops and couldn’t cut into the lead.
Elfrid Payton and Jeff Green made a total of three rainbow three-pointers on consecutive possessions, extending the lead to 18 points. The duo of Ibaka and Biyombo continued causing trouble in the paint for the Lakers, totaling seven blocks early into the second quarter.
Ingram had seven early points for the game but was unable to find his range from deep. Halfway through the second quarter, he had attempted eight shots but was only able to successfully make two of them.
While the Lakers were struggling to get any easy baskets or offensive execution, the Magic continued passing the ball around and finding open opportunities. The Lakers fell behind a game-high 24 points, as the Magic already had nine blocks.
With Walton getting desperate, he inserted Marcelo Huertas into the game, to hopefully see more offensive execution. On his first play in the game, Huertas used a pick and roll to perfection and was left open for an easy floater.
The Lakers were able to get over their poor offense in the second quarter but were unable to gain ground on the Magic. Both teams would trade buckets throughout the quarter, with the Magic maintaining their 20-point lead.
With the team trying to get a stop late in the first half, Walton had the defense switch to a 2-3 zone for one final defensive possession. The Magic wasted 24 seconds off the clock but didn’t score against the zone.
Going into halftime, the Lakers trailed by a score of 57-40.
The third quarter got off to a good start for the Lakers, as Russell was able to knock down a three-point play off a fast break lay-up.
The Magic would fail to score their first few possessions of the third quarter,until Ibaka converted on a three-point play while posting up on Deng. While the Lakers continued playing small ball, Vogel and the Magic would respond with their lengthy frontcourt.
Walton would be forced to change his hand, going back to the 2-3 zone. The Lakers were able to have success on the defensive end, which would transition to the offensive end of the court.
After his three-point play, Russell would go on to knock in a mid-range jumper and three-pointer from the wing on back-to-back possessions. The Lakers would go on to collect another stop, followed by a Deng driving lay-up.
Vogel would be forced to call an early timeout, as the Lakers cut the lead back down to 10 points.
The unlikely three-point shooters that were nailing shots for the Magic in the first half seemed to turn cold in the second half. The Lakers were able to get another stop, which translated into another bucket for Deng.
The Lakers were able to bring the lead down to single digits for the first time since the first quarter. It seemed as though the defense made some keen adjustments with Walton in the locker room, switching off of screens and closing out on the appropriate shooters.
The problem for the Lakers in the second half struggled with closing out possessions. While Mozgov was occupied boxing out Biyombo, it left Gordon and Ibaka lanes to crash the boards.
As the bench unit would be inserted into the game, the Magic would continue going back to the post. Unable to get a few stops, the Magic would spread the lead back out to 20 points.
Before the end of the quarter, Robinson would get an offensive rebound that would translate into a Clarkson three, bringing the lead back to under 20 points. After three-quarters, the Lakers trailed by a score of 86-69.
The start to the fourth quarter began with a monster dunk, courtesy of Robinson. While Williams was attempting to draw a foul, he tossed up a floater. After not getting the call, Robinson followed by grabbing and dunking the ball with one hand over Nik Vucevic.
A Clarkson three cut the lead back to 14 points, with the Magic turning the ball over on two straight possessions.
After a minute of both teams failing to score, the Lakers were able to force a Green turnover in the corner. Huertas stole the ball, feeding Clarkson for a fast break dunk.
Vucevic then got away with a hook on a post up, but promptly missed the layup. The Lakers then ran the ball down the court, feeding Clarkson in the corner for another three-pointer.
However, Huertas and Clarkson would each make questionable passing decisions to the following plays, resulting in turnovers and lay-ups for the Magic. Walton was forced to call a timeout, as the Magic brought the lead back up to 12.
Upon making the Lakers making their push in the fourth quarter, the Magic seemed to always respond. The Lakers were unable to cut the lead after reaching the halfway mark in the fourth.
A weird altercation happened after the Magic made a basket. The ref thought Clarkson was inbounding the ball although he was running an outside lane. After catching the ball, Clarkson’s momentum carried him inbounds.
Clarkson then confronted the ref about the situation and was given a technical for making contact with the ref. The Lakers’ bench erupted in denial, which resulted in a meeting with all the officials. After a minute of discussion, the ref elected to rescind the technical foul, avoiding a misunderstanding.
Both Vucevic and veteran guard C.J. Watson made their presence felt in the fourth quarter, exchanging lay-ups before Watson hit a three to extend the lead back to 17 points.
With four minutes remaining, a Deng free throw would give him a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) for the night.
While attempting to get back into the game, the Lakers would begin to unravel for the night. While trying desperately to catch up, they would allow the Magic some easy opportunities in transition. Thanks to easy buckets, the Magic were able to comfortably keep their lead and the Lakers from coming back into the game.
At the conclusion of the contest, the Lakers had 18 turnovers and failed to hold a lead at any point during the game. The final score would result in another loss for the Lakers 109-90.
Clarkson had a team-high 18 points, on 7-for-14 shooting, with five rebounds, but also five turnovers. Russell finished the game with 15 points, three assists, and two rebounds, while Deng finished with his double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds, three assists).
The Lakers finished the road trip with a 1-6 record and return to Staples Center for a Christmas night showdown against the Los Angeles Clippers.