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.
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.
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.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org