Lakers 80, Magic 92: Jan. 20 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening road contest at Orlando, the Lakers looking to bounce back from a Thursday night loss at Miami, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Magic: J. Nelson, J. Redick, J. Richardson, R. Anderson, D. Howard

FIRST QUARTER
3:51 L.A. had more pep in its step than it did in the previous evening’s loss at Miami, but the execution wasn’t much better, Orlando opening an 18-8 lead when Howard hit 1-of-2 free throws. Despite getting good looks, the Lakers just struggled to hit shots, making only 4-of-16, including an 0-for-4 from Gasol (26 points at Miami).

0:00 … And the offensive struggles continued. After Bryant joined Bynum on the bench, rookie Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock checked in, and both promptly missed shots as L.A. fell to 4-for-19 from the field. Gasol did draw a foul in transition when Glen Davis tried to draw a charge, but interference was called instead of a block, meaning the bucket didn’t count. Still, two free throws cut Orlando’s lead to 20-10, which turned into a 12-point edge when Jason Richardson’s baseline jumper fell to close the period.

SECOND QUARTER
10:49 Kobe Bryant checked back into the game with his team now down 26-11, the struggles continuing at both ends. It’s here that we should probably note that Mike Brown actually expected some games like this, where L.A. had a hard time adjusting to a new offense, but he wasn’t as keen on tolerating lack of help on defense, thus devoting a time out when Bynum failed to help Morris on Chris Duhon’s penetration.

3:18 Broken record warning: L.A. continued to struggle to hit much of anything, as Troy Murphy, Gasol and Bryant all rimmed out, with Orlando getting consecutive threes (Anderson, Nelson) and two Redick free throws to open a 40-20 lead.

THIRD QUARTER
9:30 After cutting that lead to 17 going into the half, a 6-0 run out of the break got L.A. within 11. Bynum and Gasol had three combined field goals after combining for exactly zero in the first half, Mike Brown making a nice adjustment to get excellent looks inside.

7:15 The Magic continued to aggressively double-team Bryant, creating continued open looks, which Fisher capitalized upon with a wing three, but subsequent open looks from both Barnes and Fisher rimmed out, not allowing the Lakers to get closer than 13. The Magic also connected on two more threes (9-for-20 total), hurting L.A.’s chance to get the lead to single digits.

0:00 After L.A. worked so hard and executed fairly well to get back into it, Orlando managed a late run to restore the lead to 15, when it had once been 10, after three. Bryant had 21 points on 8-of-15 field goals, but a familiar problem – no bench scoring – plagued L.A. late, only four points coming off the pine.

FOURTH QUARTER
10:00 L.A. had gotten only four points off its bench in the first three quarters when Darius Morris exploded for five points in 30 seconds, first a three and then a layup to bring L.A. within 10 points. During the ensuing time out, Gasol mentioned to Mike Brown that a weak side lob was open with Howard cheating off him, and so it was on the next possession, for a layup.

5:19 Back-to-back threes from Bryant and Kapono had L.A. at last within single digits, but Orlando responded in kind with a 6-0 run of its own to make it 80-66. The corner three from Anderson was his 3rd (he’s leading the NBA in makes) and the team’s 10th, a night after Miami drained nine triples.

0:00 The Lakers battled throughout the fourth, outscoring Orlando 49-44 in the second half, but the 17-point halftime deficit was far too much from which to come back in a 92-80 final. Dwight Howard played 46 minutes towards his 21 points and 23 boards, while Bryant’s 44 minutes resulted in 30 points and eight assists. L.A. will take the long flight back to California, and get set for a Sunday home game against Indiana. See you then.