Rapid Reaction: Lakers 103, Magic 94
March, 23, 2014
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- It was appropriate that the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic met on Sunday night during the finale of the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament.
The Magic came into Sunday owners of the third-worst record in the NBA. The Lakers came in with the fourth-worst. The scouting departments for both teams will be scouring the tourney with an extra-keen eye, hoping to unearth the right prospect to turn their respective teams around when June's NBA draft rolls around.
Orlando might have one of the top candidates for rookie of the year in Victor Oladipo (21 points, 10 assists, five rebounds) to build around already, but the Lakers showed they have a few pieces that they should seriously considering keeping around next season and beyond as they try to ascend back to contender status.
How it happened: The Lakers jumped out to a 14-4 lead, but Orlando crawled back to go up by 30-29 early in the second quarter. Again, L.A. stormed ahead by 15, before the Magic used an 8-0 run heading into halftime to pull to within seven. The Lakers' lead was down to only two after three quarters, with the Magic's Kyle O'Quinn (14 points on 7-for-10 shooting) and Tobias Harris (16 points on 7-for-14 shooting) leading the charge. With the game going back and forth for much of the fourth, Nick Young nailed a 3-pointer with 3:23 left to put L.A. up by seven. The Lakers controlled things from there.
What it means: This is one of those wins the Lakers could be kicking themselves about when the lottery order is set in a couple of months. However, it was Catch-22 territory for the team. The Lakers want to see this group of players win games so the front office can properly evaluate their talent in situations that count. At the same time, the future of the franchise could be drastically improved if the Lakers get their man with say, for instance, the third pick, instead of potentially missing him with the fourth.
Hits: Jordan Hill had perhaps his best game as a Laker with a career-high 28 points and 13 rebounds.
Young scored 26 points off the bench.
Jodie Meeks had a career-high six steals.
The Lakers ended their four-game losing streak.
L.A. also snapped its streak of giving up 110 points or more at eight games.
Misses: Steve Nash did not play because of nerve root irritation in his right hamstring and Pau Gasol left the game at halftime because of dizziness and nausea and did not return.
Stat of the game: 5. That's how many four-point plays Young's season total is up to after notching another one in the first half Sunday. Young already owned the franchise record for most four-point plays in a season. In the process he upped the Lakers' four-point plays as a team this season to eight, which is also a franchise record.
Up next: The Lakers host the suddenly surging New York Knicks on Tuesday. The game is sure to pack plenty of intrigue for Lakers fans with Phil Jackson potentially being in the building and also Carmelo Anthony, who could be a free agent target of the purple and gold this summer, on the court.