Hats off to the young Orlando Magic, led by L.A. native Arron Afflalo. The former UCLA Bruin posted 30 points in his return to SoCal.
The Lakers were just straight up out-hustled, getting beat by the Magic, 113-103. They allowed three double-doubles (Jameer Nelson, Glen Davis and Nicola Vucevic), 40 points in the paint, and pretty much lost the game on a 26-8 Magic run in the fourth quarter.
Where was the energy that was prevalent in the win against the Denver Nuggets a couple nights back?
There are a couple of things you could point at to find an answer. You could place the blame on the bench. Unlike in the game against the Nuggets, where they posted 61, this night they only posted 20. You could point to Howard’s 9-for-21 showing at the free throw line. Or look at the team over-all.
This loss can be chalked up to general lack of effort, a lack of focus, and more than a couple brain farts on defense.
After the game, coach Mike D’Antoni summed it up in his first words on the podium. “We just can’t seem to get out of our own way.”
For what seemed like the entire game, the Lakers let the Magic hang around and generally control the tempo -- something D’Antoni says you can’t let other teams do.
“You let them do what they want to do and then they hit a streak,” he said. “It’s an NBA team, they felt like they had a chance to win and we let them have it.”
Another good one-sentence summation came from Antawn Jamison: “Defensively we were horrible tonight.” Jamison only posted 10 points following that 33-point performance Friday night against Denver. “You just have to look in the mirror at yourself and realize what you could have done better and what we [have to] do to get this thing rolling in the right direction.”
The Lakers allowed the Magic to score 40 points in the fourth quarter alone. Second-year fill-in point guard Darius Morris says bottom line, they didn’t try as hard to get the win Sunday night. “Once they hit some shots, got [their] confidence up, it’s really hard to stop professionals when they have they have it going,” he said.
As mentioned above, Howard was 9-for-21 at the free-throw line, but that’s nothing new. However, when you mix that with how the Lakers played on defense, it makes matters much worse.
“We were a step slow tonight; we just have to pick it up,” said the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. “No matter how many shots we miss or we make the effort has to be there.”
Kobe Bryant little more than doubled his point total from the Denver game, posting an even 30. Still, he says more can be done. “The pressure is on me and Dwight to really perform well,” he said. “We’ll pick up for everybody else’s mistakes or whatever it may be. He and I have to perform at a really, really high level night in and night out.”
They will both get a chance to perform at that high level at they play seven of their next eight games on the road, including games against the 12-4 New York Knicks and last year’s Western Conference Champions Oklahoma City Thunder.
You can follow JD Carrere on Twitter at @SportsNetJunkie.