Magic Hold Lakers to a Season Low of 75 Points
It was a new franchise history sellout; over 19 thousand fans took over the blue and white bleachers. Some will blame the defending title champions 7-game road trip and back-to-back games. But those who showed up Sunday night will tell you the win was not a fluke, but a well-played match that gave the Orlando Magic what they deserved, a win over the Los Angeles Lakers, at home.
‘Effort’; the word was not used lightly by coach Stan Van Gundy. It was the first time the Magic scored a win over a winning team in a long time. Trying to bounce back from a loss to the New Orleans Hornets wasn’t easy and it took a true team effort. Howard came out to score a whopping 31 points and 13 rebounds and he wasn’t alone. Jason Richardson helped the scoreboard with 12 points on his end, something Van Gundy is proud of.
“I thought we put a lot into that game. We played nine guys, I thought all nine of them gave an absolutely tremendous effort,” Van Gundy said. “I thought our individual defense was the best it’s been all year.”
As the Lakers put the first six points on the board, the crowd went wild…yes it was a house divided. But soon enough the blue team worked on the offense and gave Ryan Anderson the first three of the night followed by Howard who got fouled in the paint on a lay up. The tie was just what they needed to get ahead. With the help of Turk with 5:33 left and Richardson who scored another three, the Magic closed the first quarter ahead 24-21.
It’s not atypical of Orlando to start strong and slowly lose steam, so fans were still on edge. But second quarter brought what I like to call a little help from the bench. Earl Clark on an offensive rebound for the dunk with the help of Gilbert Arenas, helped the Magic stay ahead by 7 points. It wasn’t too long before Kobe Bryant came out of hiding and helped LA put points on the board in the second. But the team of Richardson and Clark was too much for one person to handle and the Magic closed the half ahead once again.
By the half, the Lakers were shooting 39% from the line and only 12% from behind the 3-point line. That didn’t stop Kobe Bryant and Andre Bynum from giving Howard and Richardson a run for their money. Both scored high on the first half and it was something to watch out for.
Third quarter opened with another two points from Howard on a lay up matched by a 8-foot jumper from Paul Gasol. Ron Artest shoots for two and makes it, but Nelson takes the opportunity and breaches the defense for another two. On a roll, the Magic take the opportunity to open a lead of 9 points but reach a breaking point and the Lakers close in once again.
Leave it to Arenas to make the crowd go wild. After dribbling the ball onto his own foot, a desperate attempt at the basket, and as the buzzer goes, lands Howard the ball ready for a dunk. A nice touch to the start of the end.
Fourth quarter was a stroll through the park. It seemed like the Lakers had given up and one thing provided a big hint. Bryant decided to check out the bench and there he stayed. That didn’t mean Orlando had to follow in their footsteps. By the end of the game, Orlando was shooting 48% from the field and 80% on free throws. A good night for Howard who shot 7/8.
Howard wants to take this new found confidence all the way to the finals and he believes this is the time to do it.
“I want every game. Like I said, we just have to be consistent; the whole team if we want to contend for the title. We played like a team tonight that wanted to win. We just have to do that every night,” Howard said.
Here is the point breakdown…
|1st Quarter||2nd Quarter||3rd Quarter||4th Quarter||FINAL|