5 things to take from Orlando Magic's defeat of LA Lakers
The Orlando Magic have had their most significant victory of the season thus far. They defeated the LA Lakers in LA, 113-103. Here are five things to take from this game which marked the first time Howard faced his former team:
Hack the heartbreaker
Dwight Howard slew, cut and hacked the heart out of the Orlando Magic by toying with them and then ultimately leaving them for the Lakers. This match was payback time for the Magic as they adapted the ‘Hack a Howard’ strategy. Calling it a strategy makes it seem complicated. Idea is to just keep hacking away at him and sending him to the free throw line. A notoriously poor free throw shooter to begin with, when he gets fouled in a manner which says “Welcome! Welcome to the free throw line. All freebies are yours, take what you can make.” that puts a bigger damper in his morale. Knowing that the opponents have so much confidence in your poor shooting that they are willingly sending you to the line time and time again.
It worked to perfection as Howard missed 7 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter. The Lakers led going in the fourth quarter 77-73, then the Magic employed that stretegy. That kept the Lakers from settling into any rhythm offensively as their trips up the court would be disrupted by Hack a Howard.
Howard had 21 points and 15 rebounds but he finished with 9-21 from the free throw line.
Lakers’ lousy defense
One look at the roster of the Lakers makes it clear that they are among the most talented offensive teams in the league. But their defense isn’t at par with their offense. Although Kobe and Howard are both on all-defensive teams, the former is getting old and sometimes conserves energy on defense so he can go all out on offense. And Howard hasn’t been the same since his back injury. Metta World Peace is one of the most effective defenders in the league, but he can’t stick with the smaller guards very effectively. And of course the point guard position is a gaping black hole in the defense of the Lakers, with or without Steve Nash.
The Lakers gave up 113 points on 50% shooting. To the Orlando Magic. They gave up 40 points in the fourth quarter, to the Orlando Magic.
Kobe’s lousy offense
Kobe Bryant scored 34 points! He is awesome! Until you look at the shot attempts, a grand total of 27. Gasol had 11 attempts and Howard had 13. Once again Kobe shot more than both his all star big men combined. Such performances are like two steps forward and four steps back.
Point it at the playmakers
Darrius Morris of the Lakers shot 1-5, had 3 assists and two turnovers and got torched by Jameer Nelson for 19 points and 13 assists. Chris Duhon played almost 30 minutes at the point and had 10 points with 2 turnovers and 0 assists. The Magic had 34 assists to 20 of the Lakers. When Kobe Bryant leads the team in assists (five) then you know that you need a playmaker.
Big Baby didn’t play like a baby. Glenn Davis had 23 points and 11 rebounds, vs Pau Gasol no less. But the unlikely hero of the game was Aaron Afflalo as he scored 30 points to lead the Magic. And he did it by shooting 11-18 from the field.
The Lakers are now 3-4 under Mike D’Antoni and their record stands at 8-9. Here are the first half highlifhts: