Oh that cursed third quarter. Why does basketball require four quarters anyway? Silly though such thoughts are, if the Lakers didn’t have to play beyond the second quarter, they’d be close to undefeated this season. For reasons unknown, whatever possesses them in the first half, is exorcised in the second because they are almost two completely different teams on either side of halftime.
Fans this year are careful not to get too excited when the Lakers shoot 57% and score 30+ points to start the game. With this team, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and the Lakers are adept at the former, remedial in the latter.
The Magic came into tonight’s contest with an 11-32 record. Hard to imagine a team doing worse than the Lakers, but they’re out there and Orlando is one of them. As we’ve seen numerous times this season, however, the wins and losses of Laker opponents are no indication of their performance against the purple and gold. The Magic got the Lakers’ best in the first half, but in the end, it was Orlando heading off the floor with a 114-105 victory.
Balanced Offensive Contributions – Five players in double figures, led by two who finished with double-doubles. Pau Gasol, continuing his solid play on this road trip, finished with 21 points on 8-17 from the field, 11 rebounds, six assists, a steal and two blocks. Kendall Marshall, trying to recover from a subpar scoring game against Miami last night, chipped in 19 points on 7-14, including 5-7 from three, led the game with 14 assists and had just one turnover in almost 40 minutes of playing time. This tandem of Gasol-Marshall has been a productive one. Gasol needed a point guard to look out for him, and Marshall has acclimated to the team’s needs almost seamlessly. Aside from their consistent play, however, are the continuing contributions from Ryan Kelly (15 points, 5-8 FG, 2-3 3PT), Jodie Meeks (17 points on 7-12 FG, 3-5 3PT) and Nick Young (16 points on 6-16).
First-half turnovers – Just four turnovers for the Lakers in the first two quarters. They actually didn’t commit a single turnover in the first quarter, and didn’t get their first one until halfway into the second quarter.
Threeball – 12-22 from behind the arc, led by Marshall’s 5-7.
Wesley Johnson – Talk about the streakiest of all streaky shooters. Johnson doesn’t just have scoring droughts in every other game. He seems to go through them in a string of games. Tonight he had just five points on 2-7 from the field.
Lead Donors – The way they’ve treated almost every advantage they get, it appears the Lakers aren’t fond of leading in games. They give them away so haphazzardly, it’s not difficult to see why they have to struggle in the final minutes. Tonight, for example, they started the second half with a 10-point lead and then, quicker than you can say “seven seconds or less,” the Magic had gained an 11-point lead which, in the fourth went up to 12.
Rebounds – The Lakerd were outrebounded 51-40. Cleaning up the glass just isn’t their priority this season.
Even despite the Lakers shooting 56% in the fourth quarter to Orlando’s 33%, they still couldn’t figure out how to take advantage and win. Their fate, like many times this season, was decided in that third quarter where they were outscored 38-25.