(Fernando Medina/Getty Images)
Lakers stop the Magic, extend road streak to a dozen
Not the prettiest one, but they’ll take it.
The Lakers blew a 24-point first half lead Wednesday evening but recovered to beat the Magic, extending their road winning streak to 12 games in the first outing of the current trip.
It sure looked like an easy ride at the end of the first quarter, with the Lakers holding Orlando to 9 points. In fact, a few minutes into the second, the purple and gold pushed their advantage to 24 points but that’s about where the fun ended.
A barrage of turnovers ensued. The Magic’s length combined with some carelessness with the ball allowed the home team to claw all the way back, tying the contest early in the fourth period on a Michael Carter-Williams three-pointer.
“We came out so strong defensively, we held them to 9 points and we probably let our guard down and after that felt like it was going to be easy,” head coach Frank Vogel admitted.
The Lakers immediately reacted with an 8-0 run and never led by fewer than 5 the rest of the way.
LeBron James had a lot to do with that, not just in the final period, but throughout the whole night.
“We’re just a composed group, no matter the circumstances,” he said.
The straight up bodying. pic.twitter.com/fYIs1oWYTr— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 12, 2019
James notched his seventh triple-double of the season with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Seven of those dimes came after halftime, including this bomb to JaVale McGee:
All those pregamesnaps are starting to come in handy! pic.twitter.com/bL2z8PvUJj— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 12, 2019
More importantly, his improved decision-making settled the team down in the second half. James had half of the team’s 10 turnovers in the first 24 minutes, but only one of four after intermission.
“I'm happy about the win... but I'm not satisfied with the way we played,” he said. “We have to be a lot better.”
to— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 12, 2019
It never gets old. pic.twitter.com/jk4BjeOOU8
With Anthony Davis on a below average (for his lofty standards) night – 16 points on 6-of-20 from the field and 12 boards – the Lakers once again got contributions from multiple spots in their roster.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drained four three-pointers, including a couple of key ones down the stretch, and Jared Dudley – getting some run with Rajon Rondo and Kyle Kuzma out – was extremely effective in 21 minutes off the bench.
The 13-year veteran played some pesky defense on Aaron Gordon and aided an irregular offensive effort with 3 makes from downtown.
“A guy who stands ready,” that’s how James described him. “True professional. Trains, works his mind, works his body to be ready for whenever. With ‘Do being out, and Kuz being out, he was called upon and delivered.”
And despite shooting just 42.5% from the field and missing 9 free throws, the Lakers were able to improve to 22-3 and keep the best record in the NBA.
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