Looking to bounce back after a loss on Monday night in Indiana, the Orlando Magic returned to the Amway Center to take on the reeling Los Angeles Lakers. It was ugly throughout, but the Magic, behind a late jumper from Nikola Vucevic, were able to grit out a victory, 101-99.
Out of the gates, the Magic had decent energy, but were unable to get anything going on either end. The offense struggled to move the ball and find any consistency, while the defense struggled to piece together consistent stops. The struggles prompted Magic coach Scott Skiles to once again turn to his bench, turning to the likes of Mario Hezonja, Aaron Gordon, Shabazz Napier and Nikola Vucevic to try and give the team a lift.
The second unit was able to get the needle moving some for the Magic, scoring half of their points in the quarter (13), while beginning to find ways to slow down the Lakers. With Victor Oladipo going down with a concussion around the mid-way point of the quarter, the hosts were going to be relying heavily on their bench for the remainder of the game.
In the second quarter, things didn't get better for the, at times, lifeless Magic. Their offense continued to struggle to run smoothly, with shooters missing open shots and layups left and right. If not for their overall advantage from beyond the arc -- the Magic were +12 in the half from three -- they could've been behind against the lowly Lakers.
Still looking for a boost at points, Skiles turned to Channing Frye, who gave the Magic his best minutes of the early season, notching 10 a team-high tying 10 points, to go with a pair of rebounds, a steal and a block. Frye gave the team's offense some space, allowing Elfrid Payton and Shabazz Napier to find their way into the painted area to kick out to open shooters. After 24 minutes, the Magic found themselves with a slim three point lead, up 48-45.
Following the halftime break, the Magic looked lethargic, getting beat on defense, while continuing to miss easy looks. Despite consistently missing open looks, the Magic were able to grab 10 offensive rebounds in the quarter, resulting in 11 second chance points. Orlando's bench continued to give them a big lift, with Vucevic, Frye and Napier combining for 16 points late in the quarter to help the Magic regain the lead heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter was much of the same for both sides, with the Magic relying on Napier to get them big buckets down the stretch. The Magic were unable to push their lead to more than five throughout the quarter, with the Lakers having an answer after almost every bucket. After the Lakers tied the game up late at 99, the Magic forced a shot clock violation with just 1.5 seconds to win the game. Getting the ball in, Vucevi hit a turnaround jumper to sink the Lakers at the buzzer.
Napier led all scorers, finishing with a career-high 22. In his first game back, Vucevic finished with 18 points off the bench, with Evan Fournier adding 16. Frye finished with an efficient 14, while Tobias Harris rounded out Magic men in double figures, finishing with 11.
Six Lakers finished in double figures, led by Roy Hibbert's 16. Rookie D'Angelo Russell finished with 14, with Louis Williams and Larry Nance Jr adding 13 apiece. Second-year man Julius Randle finished with 12, while Nick Young added 10.