After back-to-back losses marred by blown 19-point leads, the Lakers never came close to that kind of advantage Friday, trailing the entirety of their defeat from Orlando.
The Magic led by as many as 25 points and, despite a big fourth quarter run, the Lakers finished their seven-game road trip with only one win after falling, 109-90.
“The problem when you get down big is it takes a lot of energy to get back in it,” head coach Luke Walton said. “If guys are dying out there, we go to the bench. But we’re playing guys that aren’t used to playing.”
Indeed, with Julius Randle back in Los Angeles after the birth of his first son on Thursday, the Lakers’ frontcourt was shorthanded considering Larry Nance Jr. and Tarik Black also remained out due to injury.
Orlando (14-18) opened the game with a haymaker, quickly rolling out to a 10-0 lead. It then kept pushing that higher through some ferocious defense.
The Lakers (11-22) shot just 5-of-24 in the first quarter, scoring 14 points as the Magic piled up a franchise-record nine blocks in one frame — led by four from Serge Ibaka and three by Bismack Biyombo.
“They set the tone early with nine blocks in the first quarter,” Walton said. “They’re one of the biggest teams in the NBA, so we were fighting an uphill battle.”
The Magic poured it on behind Elfrid Payton, who started the game 6-of-6 from the field. Orlando ran off 10 unanswered points in the second quarter to seize a 49-26 lead before Los Angeles finally found some footing.
From the end of the second quarter through the beginning of the third, the Lakers went on an extended 26-9 run to bring their host’s lead back down to eight. D’Angelo Russell briefly heated up during this stretch, scoring a dozen of his 15 points.
Still, the Magic eventually built their lead back to 20 before the purple and gold mounted its final comeback attempt.
With a 16-2 run keyed by three 3-pointers from Jordan Clarkson, L.A. chopped its deficit to 88-82. But everything sunk from there, as Orlando scored the game’s next 11 points.
“The fight is there, but we just gotta learn how to get back to winning,” Nick Young said.
Clarkson led the Lakers with 18 points while Luol Deng provided his third double-double of the year with 11 points and 10 rebounds. However, Payton unexpectedly provided plenty of firepower off the bench.
The 22-year-old entered the game shooting just 23.5 percent on 3-pointers but knocked down 3-of-6 to reach 25 points — one short of his career-high — and nine assists.
“He got hot and made shots that we wanted him to take,” Clarkson said. “He just made shots.”
Payton’s teammates also found their rhythm, shooting 50.6 percent as a whole, including 11-of-27 from beyond the arc, while holding the Lakers to a 35.6 percentage.
Orlando had only two blocks in the last three quarters of the game. … Ibaka provided 19 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. … Thomas Robinson had seven points and 11 rebounds in 19 minutes. … The Lakers have gone 1-12 since beginning the season 10-10. … An audience of 18,846 sold out Amway Center.