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Magic use first-quarter block party to dominate the Lakers at home

A historic defensive performance in the first quarter paved the way to Orlando’s big win

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Magic put on a defensive show the likes the franchise has never seen in the first quarter, and the rode their lead the rest of the way behind Elfrid Payton’s scoring and passing, winning 109-89. Payton led all players with 25 points and 9 assists, while Serge Ibaka added 19 and 5 blocks. Orlando led the entire night, though things got dicey in the fourth quarter when the Lakers made their big run. Jordan Clarkson led L.A. with 18 points.

The term “block party” gets thrown around fairly liberally when a team puts together 2 or 3 rejections close together, but Orlando was absolutely deserving of the moniker in the first quarter, when they set a franchise-high with 9, surpassing the previous record of 8 blocks in a quarter in 1992. Ibaka and Biyombo did what they do best, stuffing 4 and 3 respectively, including several in a row against Timofey Mozgov in the opening minutes of the game. While the defense was dominating the paint, the offense was rolling, shooting 50% in the first quarter. DJ Augustin and Payton were the leading scorers of the quarter, getting 8 points apiece. The Lakers finally found a little offensive momentum at the end, but the Magic still commanded a 30-14 lead.

The defense wasn’t nearly so dominant in the second, but the Magic made up for it with sheer firepower, going 10-16 from the field. Their one downfall was turnovers, committing 6 after playing a clean game for the first 17 minutes of the game. Orlando’s scoring was balanced, with every player who entered the game making a basket, but Payton continued to lead the way by hitting his first 6 shots from the field, including 2 from deep. The Lakers struggled to hit shots, setting a franchise record for fewest field goals in a quarter (5-24 in the first), and settling for 31.1% for the half. Orlando led 57-40 after the second.

The third quarter looked extremely sloppy early on, with the stout defense from the first quarter all but gone. The Lakers adjusted to the Magic’s paint presence, allowing only one block in the third (and none in the second). They also adjusted their defense, shifting to a zone strategy and daring the Magic to shoot their way through it, which they were unable to do for several minutes. They managed to work around it with some post-up baskets from Ibaka and Vucevic, and some offensive rebounding. Los Angeles got the score within single-digits, but eventually Orlando’s defense came back around to reassert their lead, led again by Payton’s scoring. They tied the quarter, taking an 86-69 lead into the fourth.

If the third quarter was troubling, the fourth approached crisis mode, as the Lakers ran off a huge run at the start of the fourth, punctuated only by a Payton jumper. They got the score within 6 points after several consecutive Magic turnovers, but the Magic got their big lead back all at once, countering with an 11-0 run to seal the game up for good. From there they relied on their passing attack to push their advantage, including multiple assists from Payton when he could have been gunning to get a new career high scoring total. With the score still hovering near 20 with just a few minutes to play, it was garbage time the rest of the way.