The Orlando Magic now own the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
The Magic, without Steve Clifford for a second straight game, put forth a valiant effort against the LeBron-less defending champions, but the Lakers pulled away in the fourth en route to a 114-103 victory.
The loss was the sixth straight for the Magic, dropping their record to 18-43. Combined with the Pistons win over the Cavs, the Magic are now a half game behind Detroit and have the league’s third worst record, giving them equal draft lottery odds to Houston and Minnesota with 11 games remaining.
The Lakers jumped out to a quick double digit lead following back-to-back threes by Kyle Kuzma midway through the first. Chuma Okeke then did this to Andre Drummond...
CHUMA OKEKE DUNKED ON ANDRE DRUMMOND pic.twitter.com/JcSVqSJbUA— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 26, 2021
But the Magic would make just six field goals in the quarter while shooting 27.3 percent in the quarter. That was compared to 55 percent for the Lakers, who led 28-16 after the first.
The lead reached 16 before the Magic defense began forcing turnovers, and Chuma Okeke and Cole Anthony sparked a run in what was one of the Magic’s most efficient quarters of the season. Orlando dropped 40 points on the Lakers in the second quarter, shooting 73.7 percent from the field and getting to the line 12 times (9 makes). During what was a 29-7 Magic run, Robert Franks hit a three with 5:20 left in the half that put the Magic back in front at 42-41. Orlando led 56-50 at the half.
The third belonged to Montrezl Harrell, who had his way with Mo Bamba and scored nine points in the quarter. That was capped by Harrell’s and-one dunk against Bamba that put the Lakers ahead 79-77 with 21.6 seconds left in the third. The Magic responded, just as they had all quarter to keep pace, wth Gary Harris draining a three just before the buzzer to send the Magic into the fourth with a one-point lead.
The Magic kept it within a two possession game until Dennis Schroder hit a three with 5:17 left to give the Lakers a 98-91 lead. That was the first of nine straight Lakers points for Schroder, who hit a jumper to put L.A. up 104-96 with three minutes to go. Schroder scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth, on 6-for-7 shooting, and also finished with 10 assists. Anthony Davis and Harrell each had 18 points for the Lakers, who shot 54 percent in the game.
Okeke led the Magic with 18 points, shooting 7-for-12 from the field, including 3 of 5 from three, and held his own defensively against Davis. Harris had 17 points, going 9-for-9 from the field to make up for a 3-for-12 shooting night. Anthony finished with 15 points (3-for-4 from deep), 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 0 turnovers. The Magic were efficient from the field — 47.4 percent shooting, 11-for-25 from three (44 percent) — and held a sizeable advantage at the line — Orlando: 20-for-24, Los Angeles: 9-for-14. But their defensive trends continued as they were outmuscled in the paint and hurt by second-chance points.
The loss was Orlando’s 12th in their last 13 games.
Eight of the Magic’s final 11 games will be on the road, starting in Cleveland on Wednesday night.