LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket during the game against the Orlando Magic on January 21, 2022 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
Fernando Medina/NBAE

Lakers Turn Slow Start into Victory Over Magic

by Matthew Barrero

The Lakers (23-23) opened their season-long six-game road trip with a 116-105 win over the lowly Orlando Magic. Despite a quick start in the opening four minutes of the contest, L.A. sputtered the rest of the half and trailed by eight as they entered the third quarter.

Similar to the first meeting back in December, the Magic gave the Lake Show a run for their money until the Lakers turned the game around with a big third quarter. Like déjà vu, the Purple and Gold outscored the Magic 31-16 in tonight’s third frame and at one point had made a 17-2 run to gain a nine-point lead midway through the quarter.

L.A. would outscore Orlando 62-43 in the second half and run away with the 11-point win and season sweep.

The Lakers turned the game in their favor when they moved LeBron to the five and played smaller defensively the rest of the way, as better transitions off the ball and set screens from allowed L.A. to keep pace with the younger Orlando squad.

James led the charge once again, finishing with 29 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, pushing his 25-plus point streak to 16 straight games (only Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, and Elgin Baylor are the only other Lakers to accomplish the same feat). All night long, LBJ was a menace in the paint (8 of his 12 shots were executed in the key) and attacked the Magic defenders with his power and swift spin moves.

After missing three games with back issues, Carmelo Anthony made his return against the Pacers and contributed 14 points in a losing effort. Tonight, Melo was feeling it from beyond the arc and at one point scored 11 points in a row for L.A. midway through the fourth.

Anthony would finish 4-of-5 from three-point land and contribute a solid 23 points in the win (first time he has scored 20-plus points since Dec. 28 against Houston).

Russell Westbrook did not play in the final minutes of Wednesday’s defeat but instead of letting it deter his game, it only inspired him to play harder. For his efforts, Brodie finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three steals, good for his 20th double-double of the season.

Malik Monk and Stanley Johnson energized the second unit off the bench, as Monk would finish with 10 points, four rebounds and two steals and Johnson would add 11 points, five rebounds and hit three of his four attempts from beyond the arc.

From a milestone standpoint, LeBron played in career game No. 1,344, surpassing Paul Pierce for 15th on the all-time list for total games played. The other milestone occurred when Dwight Howard pulled down his first rebound two minutes into tonight's game. With that board, Howard is now 10th on the league's all-time rebounds list.

The Lakers will stay in Florida for the weekend and will shift their attention to the Miami Heat. The top team in the Southeast division will welcome the Lake Show this Sunday.

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