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Lopez Helps Lakers Survive Magic
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published March 9, 2018

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9 fouls Los Angeles Lakers’ Brook Lopez (11) in the final seconds of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Lopez made the two free throws, putting the Lakers ahead. The Lakers won 108-107. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Despite the Los Angeles Lakers blowing a 14-point lead, they pulled off a suspenseful 109-108 victory against the Orlando Magic. Like on their Monday night loss against the Portland Trailblazers, the Lakers lost control in the final minutes of regulation.

Center Brook Lopez not only saved the Lakers with two successful free throws, but led the team in scoring with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Forward Julius Randle and Lopez both earned double-doubles Wednesday night. Randle poured in 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Forward Aaron Gordon led the Magic with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Guard D.J. Augustin made eight assists.

The game officials made a unique call with 0.6 left in the game, resulting in a jump ball. Players mentioned how they did not exactly understand the call during the time of play.

“It was bizarre. I guess we had the game-winning jump ball,” Lopez said. “But, I’ve never seen it before.”

The game officials noted that it was a shot clock malfunction.

“The ball was in midair when the clock malfunctioned,” said Crew Chief Bill Spooner. “Because there’s no possession when the clock goes off, the ruling is that there’s a jump ball, center circle.”

Aaron Gordon shot a variety of baskets in the first eight minutes of the game, reaching the 12-point mark. The Lakers shot at 36.4 percent from the field, putting them behind by nine points at the end of the first quarter.

Orlando began losing their control on the game and both teams tied five times late in the second quarter. The Lakers earned 10 points from the Magic’s seven turnovers, guard Lonzo Ball also committed two steals. Guard Evan Fournier gained some close-range shots to tie up the game, but Orlando struggled offensively. By halftime, the Lakers were ahead 51-56.

“We got stops, we got out and ran,” said guard Isaiah Thomas about their second quarter performance. “We’re able to get stops and get easy baskets in transition and get out and push the pace.”

When the game resumed, center Nickola Vucevic put up shots to keep the Magic in the game. Ball rallied for the Lakers, scoring 13 points in the quarter. Ball also put forth effort on the defensive end, chasing down a fast break situation for a block. Yet Gordon attacked with shots all over the floor. The Magic had a two-point deficit by the end of the third quarter.

Orlando Magic guard Aaron Gordon dunks against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

The Lakers ran away with the game as the fourth quarter went on. Kuzma scored points in the paint while Thomas moved the ball around; he ended the night with nine assists. Although the Lakers were leading, they became lenient on their defense.

“It felt like we started playing as if we had won the game a little bit,” said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. “Teams in the NBA are always going to go on a run and they get dangerous when they are in survival mode.”

The Magic were within two points with seconds left in the game. Lonzo missed a three-pointer and Aaron Gordon rushed to the other end to land a bucket to gain a one-point lead; Lopez then made is two pivotal free throws.

Ball mentioned how a strong defense would keep the Lakers out of predicaments like the one they faced.

“It starts on defense. We get a little careless and then we are giving up easy points,” Ball said. “That’s how it starts and on offense, we’re not executing… It is on both ends of the court, but we definitely have to focus on defense a little more.”

The Lakers travel to Colorado to battle the Denver Nuggets on Friday, March 9.

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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