Friday, January 16, 2009

Lakers Couldn't Beat Orlando

Inspite of a spectacular night from Kobe Bryant, the LA Lakers lost to the Orlando Magic 109-103 Friday night. Bryant had a triple-double performance -- the 15th of his career and first since April 2005 -- scoring 28 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and dishing 11 assists in 41 minutes.

With the Magic leading by three, Bryant missed a 27-foot three-pointer from the right wing that could have tied the game with 8.9 seconds left in the game. Jameer Nelson, who got the offensive rebound, was quickly fouled by Pau Gasol. He made both free throws to increase the lead to five.

Bryant again tried and missed a three-point shot with 4.9 seconds to go but no effort could have saved the game with only few seconds remaining in the game and the Lakers suffered its second consecutive losses this season.

But the Lakers didn't lose the game on that last two shots of Bryant. They lost it in the third quarter where they were outscored by Orlando 30-21.

The Lakers entered the third period leading by eight points. Andrew Bynum scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the first half helping lift the Lakers to a 52-44 lead over the Magic at halftime. But he went 1-of-4 in the second half and finished with 14 points with just 3 rebounds.

In the Lakers' loss in Orlando last December, Bynum scored just three points on 1-of-4 shooting and had just a single rebound. He's a non-factor again in the second-half this time.

Pau Gasol, who scored just 11 points and seven rebounds in their previous game in Orlando, only scored 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting with 9 rebounds in 33 minutes. Their two 7-footers combined for just 27 points and 12 rebounds, 7 on the offensive end.

In contrast, Orlando's Dwight Howard scored 25 points, grabbed 20 rebounds, 8 on the offensive end, and blocked three shots. Howard had his fourth 20-20 game this season in a game against the Lakers' Twin Tower! If you're the Lakers' GM, would you trade 7-footers Gasol and Bynum for 6'11" Howard? I would...

Also, for the first time in Orlando's franchise history, the Magic sweep their season series with the Lakers. The Magic wasn't able to do that when the Lakers had a 6'11" Kwame Brown as their starting center going against Howard.

Maybe the Lakers should hire Brown as special consultant to teach the Lakers big men how to play "defense" against the likes of Howard. Too bad he's still warming the bench in Detroit!

Derek Fisher also struggled with his shots missing eight of his 11 attempts for just 9 points. In their last game, he scored 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting.

Sasha Vujacic returned after missing two games with back spasms, but he didn't score in his 13 minutes on the court. Trevor Ariza added just 7 points off-the-bench.

On the positive note, Lamar Odom had a decent game this time. He had 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and grabbed 9 boards. In their last meeting, Odom was also a non-factor on offense with only four points on 1-of-7 shooting, although he matched the total rebounding contributions of their Twin Tower with 8 boards.

Vladimir Radmanovic added 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Jameer Nelson top-scored for Orlando with 28 points with 8 assists. Rashard Lewis scored 16 points with 4 steals and Hedo Turgoklu contributed 13 points. Courtney Lee added 12 points with 7 rebounds.


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