Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/20

Game 1: Saturday, December 20th
Game 2: Friday, January 16th

Lakers 103

(21-5, 7-4 away)

Magic 106

(21-6, 11-3 home)

    Coverage: SUNHD

    7:00 PM ET, December 20, 2008

    Amway Arena, Orlando, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    LAL 24 34 26 19103
    ORL 23 26 36 21106

    Top Performers

    LAL: K. Bryant 41 Pts, 8 Reb, 3 Ast

    Orl: J. Nelson 27 Pts, 4 Reb, 5 Ast

    Magic overcome Kobe's season-high 41 points to drop Lakers

    Associated Press

    ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kobe Bryant did his job. The Orlando Magic did, too.

    The Los Angeles star scored a season-high 41 points, but Magic center Dwight Howard made eight of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter, and Jameer Nelson had 27 points to lead Orlando to a 106-103 victory over the Lakers on Saturday night.

    Fast Facts

    • For the second straight game, Kobe Bryant's attempt to tie the game and send it to overtime in the final seconds failed, helping the Lakers, who started the season 21-3, to their second consecutive loss.

    • Bryant finished with 41 points, tying his Lakers record for points scored against the Magic.

    • Orlando has won four straight and 17 of its last 20 games.

    -- ESPN research

    "ESPN magazine did a story about how to defend LeBron James," coach Stan Van Gundy joked. "I don't think anybody is coming to me for that gig about defending Kobe. We better keep winning games, so I can stay employed."

    Bryant missed a three at the buzzer that would have sent the game to overtime. He made 14 of 31 shots, and all 11 of his free throws.

    "They had three guys over at me every time [in the second half]," Bryant said. "When I get going, they send everybody.

    "I think it was really a good thing that I missed those two games," Howard said. "One, for me, giving rest for body. And two, for my teammates that they can win without, and do a lot of great things and trust each other."

    Orlando survived despite early foul trouble for Howard. Nelson had 15 points in the third quarter to lead the Magic back from an nine-point halftime deficit.

    Rashard Lewis added 22 points for Orlando, which has won six straight home games. Derek Fisher had 27 in support of Bryant.

    In the last three days the Magic swept Western Conference contenders San Antonio and Los Angeles, giving them credibility as force for the NBA title.

    "We believe we're contenders," Nelson said. "The naysayers say we're not. This means a lot. I think it's a statement game. It shows we're serious and we're contenders for the East."

    The Lakers lost their last two games on last-minute shots.

    "Those things are going to happen when you're on the road," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Those shots are more friendly at home, I guess."

    Van Gundy said the Magic beat the Lakers at their best.

    "It's hard for me for anyone to make a case the Lakers had a bad game," Van Gundy said.

    Los Angeles, which fell to Miami on Friday night, lost two straight games for the first time this season.

    Howard, playing his second outing after missing a pair of games with a sore knee, had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

    "He wanted the ball," Van Gundy said. "He really played well in the second half."

    The Magic improved to 21-6.

    "I'm not trying to lie to you. It feels good in perspective. But it counts as one [victory]," Van Gundy said.

    Orlando held a lead late in the fourth quarter, and foul-plagued Howard hit a pair of free throws with just over a minute left. Rashard Lewis hit one of two free throws in the final minute to put the Magic up to stay.

    Nelson hit a long jumper to tie it at 78 late in the third quarter, with the Magic using six 3s to get back in the game.

    Bryant had 25 first-half points as the Lakers took a 58-49 halftime lead.

    Game notes

    The Magic made 12 of 33 3s. ... Los Angeles is on a five-game trip. The Lakers return home to play NBA champion Boston on Dec. 25.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 103 106
    FGM-FGA 36-87 (.414) 35-72 (.486)
    3PM-3PA 7-21 (.333) 12-30 (.400)
    FTM-FTA 24-25 (.960) 24-39 (.615)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-40 11-40
    Assists 14 20
    Turnovers 11 15
    Steals 8 6
    Blocks 2 5
    Fast Break Points 8 9
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 30 (4/0) 27 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 10 5

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Kobe Bryant Bryant
    Points: 41
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Jameer Nelson Nelson
    Points: 27
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0