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Orlando Magic Lose Early Lead, Fall to L.A. Lakers 116-105

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FILE LeBron James faces the Orlando Magic defense as he attempts a layup during the L.A. Lakers's match against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center Friday, January 21, 2022. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Anticipation ran high at Amway Center as the Orlando Magic faced off against LeBron James and the L.A. Lakers Friday. Two key figures returned for Orlando Friday: Wendell Carter, Jr. and head coach Jamahl Mosley. And while Terrence Ross had tendonitis issues, Mosley said he would play. And he certainly did.

 

First Half

The Magic were hungry for a win, being 8-38 on the season (2-16 at home). Teams around the NBA unanimously acknowledge Orlando’s drive to win, and Friday was no different. The other side of that coin–Orlando’s Achilles heel–showed through too, from the first quarter: fouls. In the first quarter alone, Mo Bamba fouled Dwight Howard, Cole Anthony clocked two fouls, and Jalen Suggs sent LeBron James to the line.

To Orlando’s credit, though, they kept up with the scoring, keeping the point gap within two to five points and tying several times. The first quarter ended with the Magic leading 27-24.

The Magic kept the fouls going strong in the second quarter, though.

With 3:55 left in the first half, Jalen Suggs hit the floor hard thanks to Talen Horton-Tucker’s shooting foul. The play went under review.

After review, Horton-Tucker’s foul was upgraded to a flagrant foul, getting Suggs two shots at the free throw line. Suggs successfully scored both and the Magic kept possession of the ball.

On the very next play, Avery Bradley fouled Wendell Carter, Jr., sending him to the line for two, and he made one, making the score 52-50.

Play of the first half: After a fight for the ball on the Lakers’ end of the court, Orlando’s Wendell Carter Jr. recovered the ball and passed it to Jalen Suggs, who ran it down to the Magic’s end and passed it to Franz Wagner. Russell Westbrook stole the rock from Franz after he took a tumble, ran it down to the Lakers’ side and passed it to LeBron James, who was ready for the alley oop, but was denied, courtesy of Chuma Okeke’s block and steal.

At halftime, the Magic led the Lakers 62-54.

 

Second Half

Orlando’s other Achilles heel showed itself in the third quarter: the long lag in scoring. While the second half began with them in the lead, the Magic ended up falling behind by 10 points. The Lakers scored 31 points to Orlando’s 16 in the third, a far cry from scoring three over in the first quarter (27 points to L.A.’s 24) and five over in the second quarter (35 points to L.A.’s 30).

The Magic’s next Achilles heel became all the more apparent by fourth quarter: A need for more rebounds. By the fourth, the Magic clocked 34 rebounds compared to LA’s 42, and it showed in the score, which was 107-93 with four-and-a-half minutes left in the game.

While the both teams were close on field goals (48.8 percent L.A. to 44.2 percent Orlando), the Magic unfortunately struggled on three-pointers. L.A. led far with 43.3 percent to Orlando’s 26.3 percent.

The Magic next host the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, January 23, 2022 at 6pm EST.

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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LeBron James Inks 2-Year, $97.1 Million Deal with Lakers

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James has agreed to a two-year, $97.1 million contract extension through the 2024-25 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, his agent announced Wednesday.

Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul said the league-maximum deal makes James the highest-paid player in NBA history. His new deal includes a player option that would keep the second-leading scorer in NBA history with the Lakers past his 40th birthday in December 2024.

The 37-year-old James is headed into the final year of his most recent contract with the Lakers, who signed the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player and four-time league champion in July 2018. The new deal means the 18-time All-Star will make $46.7 million this season.

Barring injury, James is likely to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s career scoring king this winter. James and the Lakers also still hope to be in contention for another title if James and Anthony Davis can return at full health after an injury-plagued 2021-22 ended without a playoff appearance.

James’ new deal syncs with Davis’ most recent contract extension with the Lakers, allowing both to leave the Lakers or to negotiate new deals in 2024. Both superstars are represented by Klutch.

James’ recommitment to the Lakers also silences persistent talk of his possible departure as a free agent or in a trade. James hasn’t appeared to be going anywhere on social media or in his public appearances, and he praised the hiring of new Lakers coach Darvin Ham.

James has missed significant portions of the season due to injury in three of his four years with the Lakers. He was largely healthy in the elongated 2019-20 season when the Lakers won the franchise’s 17th NBA title in the Florida bubble, and he has been every bit the dominant player of his prime when at full strength in the ensuing two years.

Although his contract status inspired plenty of offseason chatter, James seemed unlikely to relocate after spending the past four seasons of his 19-year career with the storied Lakers. His family is settled in Los Angeles, where his eldest son, Bronny, is a 17-year-old senior and college basketball prospect playing at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth.

James has occasionally said he intends to play on the same team with Bronny when his son reaches the NBA. Although plenty of obstacles remain between the younger James and the NBA, he could be draft-eligible in the summer of 2024.

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Orlando Magic Select Caleb Houstan in the Second Round (32nd Overall) of 2022 NBA Draft

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Michigan basketball wing Caleb Houstan was a five-star recruit in the class of 2021. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic have selected forward Caleb Houstan in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Houstan (6’8”, 205, 1/9/03) played and started in all 34 games last season as a freshman at the University of Michigan, averaging 10.1 ppg., 4.0 rpg. and 1.4 apg. in 32.1 minpg., while shooting .355 (60-169) from three-point range. He led the Wolverines in three-point field goals made. Houstan scored in double figures 17 times and had 20+ points twice. He had ten games with 3+ three-pointers made and four games with 4+ three-pointers. Houstan was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the period ending Jan. 24 and helped Michigan reach the Sweet Sixteen during the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive time.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, Houstan graduated from Montverde Academy in Montverde, FL. As a senior (2020-21), he was named Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year. Houstan was also named a 2021 McDonald’s All-American, a Naismith Second Team All-American and to the Sports Illustrated All-American Third Team.

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Orlando Magic Select Paolo Banchero with the First Overall Pick of 2022 NBA Draft

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The Orlando Magic have selected Paolo Banchero in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft. Photo via NBC Chicago.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Magic have selected forward Paolo Banchero (pronounced pow-loh ban-CARE-oh) in the first round (first overall) of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Banchero (6’10”, 250, 11/12/02) played and started in all 39 games last season as a freshman at Duke University, averaging 17.2 ppg., 7.8 rpg., 3.2 apg. and 1.05 stlpg. in 33.0 minpg., while shooting .478 (245-513) from the floor. He led all true freshmen in the nation in scoring. Banchero led the Blue Devils in scoring and rebounding, while ranking second in minutes played. He also ranked fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in rebounding and sixth in the conference in scoring.

Banchero was named Second Team All-America by the NABC and USBWA, while being a Third Team All-America selection by The Associated Press and The Sporting News. Among his many accolades, he was one of 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, given to the nation’s most outstanding player, and one of five finalists for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award. Banchero was named to the All-ACC First Team, the ACC All-Freshmen Team and was the ACC Freshman of the Year. He was also named to the ACC All-Tournament Team, the NCAA All-Tournament Team and the NCAA West Region’s Most Outstanding Player, leading Duke to the 2022 NCAA Final Four.

While at O’Dea High School in Seattle, WA, Banchero led the team to the Class 3A state championship as a sophomore (2018-19) and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. As a junior (2019-20), he was named Washington’s Gatorade Player of the Year, a MaxPreps Junior All-American and the MaxPreps National Junior Player of the Year. Despite his senior season being postponed due to the pandemic, Banchero was named a 2021 McDonald’s All-American, a Naismith First Team All-American and a Sports Illustrated All-American.

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