The Orlando Magic dropped their ninth straight game Sunday night, 103-94, against the Los Angeles Lakers, finishing their four-game Western roadtrip and their entire 2013/14 road slate against Western clubs winless. The Lakers' last 13 foes scored at least 106 points, but Orlando came up well short of that mark due in part to its 20 turnovers.
Jordan Hill scored a career-best 28 points to go with 13 boards, and reserve guard Nick Young scored 13 of his 26 in the fourth quarter to preserve victory. Victor Oladipo posted his fifth points/assists double-double of the season, and his seventh double-double overall, with 21 points and 10 dimes in his third consecutive start for the injured Jameer Nelson. Tobias Harris came off the bench to score 16 points with nine rebounds.
Orlando got off to an inauspicious start SUnday, committing seven turnovers--many of them unforced--on their first 11 possessions, allowing L.A. to build an 11-4 lead. Once the Magic reined in their turnovers, they played significantly better against the Lakers' soft defense, using simple draw-and-kick action to set up perimeter shooters for open looks. Kyle O'Quinn benefitted the most from these opportunities, shooting 4-of-4 in the first quarter for the Magic's first four field goals of the game before picking up his second foul with 4:27 to play.
The Magic's second unit gave them a lift, with Andrew Nicholson, who replaced O'Quinn, scoring seven points in the final four minutes of the period to help Orlando close to within three points. Young beat the first-quarter buzzer with a running jumper near the top of the key to push L.A.'s lead to five.
Harris picked up where he left off against L.A. in January, scoring a quick six points to open the second quarter with a series of layups. After the third such bucket from Harris, which gave Orlando a 30-29 lead, coach Mike D'Antoni called for time and his team responded: L.A. went on a 17-2 run to take a 14-point edge, doing so by getting out in transition off Orlando turnovers and misses. The Lakers also defended with greater urgency, it appeared, following D'Antoni's timeout, taking away the easy driving lanes which afforded the Magic so many easy looks earlier in the game.
Orlando closed the half on an 8-0 run--capped with a pair of Arron Afflalo foul shots he earned by baiting Kent Bazemore into a foul with 0.2 seconds remaining--to cut L.A.'s lead to a more manageable seven points.
The Magic had trouble containing Hill in the third quarter, as the veteran big man tallied eight points on 3-of-5 shooting. L.A. sorely needed his scoring, given that Pau Gasol did not play in the second half due to an illness. The Lakers managed to get to the basket with ease in the third quarter, and Orlando proved unable to get the stops it needed to chip into the hosts' lead.
Rookie big man Dewayne Dedmon gave Orlando some solid minutes in the period, posting five points, three rebounds, and a block to go with several loose-ball dives and batted balls. With 1:19 to go in the period, for example, he tipped an offensive board to Doron Lamb, who dished it to Maurice Harkless, who then went around his back to find a cutting Harris for an uncontested slam. Lamb got the rebound in the stat sheet, but Dedmon's tip made the play possible. The dunk, incidentally, cut the Lakers' lead to three points, and Lamb's triple less than a minute later brought Orlando to within two entering the fourth.
Young took command for Los Angeles in the fourth quarter, serving as the primary scoring option on almost every Lakers trip down the floor and filling that role with ease. His combination of speed, off-the-dribble creativity, quick shooting motion, and his famous willingness to let it fly under any circumstances served him well in the fourth.
The Magic hung around for much of the fourth and even got good shots, but they simply didn't fall. Back-to-back open corner triple misses from Afflalo and Ronnie Price, either of which would have cut L.A.'s lead to two points, proved costly.
Oladipo converted a pair of free throws with 3:49 to go to draw Orlando to within four. Orlando defended the Lakers well on their ensuing possession, but Young victimized Lamb--alongside four starters in Harkless' place--with a crossover dribble and three-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer to push the lead to seven. A Magic stop there could have helped them build some momentum toward the finish, but the play simply didn't go their way.
After a Magic timeout, Jodie Meeks stripped Oladipo as he caught the inbounds pass and streaked the other way to draw a foul from the trailing Magic rookie. He converted those shots to give L.A its largest lead since late in the third period.
For Orlando to make a push toward victory, it'd need to generate stops, but it seemed appropriate that Young and Hill would combined for two key plays in the fourth which assured the victory. Young missed an off-balance jumper with 1:37 to go and L.A. up seven, but Hill got the board, drew a foul on Nik Vučević as he elevated for a putback, and then converted the ensuing foul shots. The same dynamic played out on L.A.'s next trip, with Young missing a shot, Hill beating Vučević to the board, Hill drawing a foul against Vučević, and then Hill canning a pair of foul shots.