Strong Third Quarter Not Enough in Scrimmage Loss to Lakers

by Josh Cohen

The Lead

Saturday’s scrimmage against the West-leading Los Angeles Lakers didn’t start off so hot for the Orlando Magic, as they struggled mightily with their shooting in the opening 24 minutes. By playing with more intensity, precision and focus after intermission, however, the Magic took a brief one-point lead early in the fourth quarter after trailing by as much as 19. It wasn’t enough, though, as the Lakers’ bench made enough big plays down the stretch against the Magic’s reserves in L.A.’s 119-112 victory at Walt Disney World. Kyle Kuzma led all scorers with 25 points, while LeBron James scored 20. D.J. Augustin led Orlando with 21 points.

The Key Stats

The Magic shot 11-of-50 (22 percent) in the first half, 2-of-22 from 3-point range (9.1 percent). In the third quarter, when it outscored the Lakers 40-29, Orlando knocked down 15 of its 25 attempts from the field and three of its eight tries from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Magic, who ranked No. 2 in the league in fewest turnovers before the hiatus, coughed the ball up only eight times in the game and had just two prior to the fourth quarter. Trips to the line were frequent in this contest, as the Magic attempted 44 free throws, while the Lakers took 36 of them.

The Big Picture

Regardless of the outcome in these scrimmages, playing against the three teams at the very top of the West standings should be a major benefit for the Magic before they play games that will count toward the regular season standings. The Clippers, Orlando’s opponent earlier in the week, the Lakers and the Nuggets are three of the league’s premier defensive teams – so unsurprisingly it’s going to take some time before the Magic get their offensive rhythm back. Over their final 12 games before the hiatus, eight of those being victories, the Magic had the NBA’s No. 1 offense.

The Top Performers

The two Texas Longhorns had themselves a solid afternoon, as Augustin led five Orlando players in double figures with 21 points on 6-of-7 overall shooting, 2-of-2 3-point shooting and 7-of-7 free throw shooting. Mo Bamba, the Magic’s No. 6 overall draft pick in 2018 who added over 20 pounds of muscle weight during the hiatus, came on really strong late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, slamming home three dunks and drilling a 3-pointer during his nine-point, six-rebound performance.

The Clutch Moment

Dion Waiters, who signed with the Lakers shortly prior to the hiatus, buried back-to-back shots in the final minute, including a 3-pointer with 32.7 seconds remaining that put the Lakers up six. Buckets from both Khem Birch and B.J. Johnson late helped Orlando stay within striking distance.

The Sidebar

Anthony Davis exited the game early for the Lakers after getting poked in the right eye during the first quarter. Wes Iwundu didn’t return for the Magic after suffering a laceration above his left eye from a hard fall. Orlando’s third-year forward was fouled from behind by J.R. Smith after rising up for a dunk early in the second period. His face smacked against the hardwood, causing the wound. Although they both practiced on Friday, neither Markelle Fultz or Jonathan Isaac played in this exhibition game.

Quote of the Night

“I’m looking to add new things (to my offensive game). One big thing and I mentioned this before for me is just screening and getting my teammates open because that allows me to get open myself.” – Bamba on what he’s focused on offensively during the season restart

Up Next

The Magic will play their last scrimmage before the seeding games tip off on Monday night against the Denver Nuggets at 7 p.m. ET. The Nuggets, led by two-time NBA All-Star Nikola Jokic, currently are in third place in the West behind the Lakers and Clippers.

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