Every time the Lakers got a surprising distance in the last minutes, the Orlando Magic had an answer.
When Quinn Cook made a triple to reduce the Lakers deficit to one with approximately one minute remaining, Orlando center Nikola Vucevic coldly hit a three to respond. When a JaVale McGee dump reduced the Lakers deficit to two points, Markelle Fultz responded on the opposite edge with a driving tray.
During the last week, the Lakers had been beating outcoming opponents who couldn’t beat a team that was missing one of its two stars. On Wednesday his career finally ended. The Magic won 119-118, giving the Lakers their eighth loss of the season and the first loss to a team with a losing record. With the victory, the Magic improved to 20-21.
LeBron James finished with 19 points and 19 assists, drawing a high career in assists. His final assistance came in the final bell in an assist to Cook, whose 22 points, the peak of the season, made him the top scorer of the game. The Lakers also scored 14 points from McGee, 17 from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Troy Daniels, and 11 from Danny Green.
While Lakers coach Frank Vogel was hoping to get a live practice time for Anthony Davis on Friday, he lost his fourth straight game due to a bruised major gluteus. The Lakers were also without Rajon Rondo, whose right ring finger was recorded after having suffered an avulsion fracture on Saturday in Oklahoma City.
The Laker used a constant McGee diet in the first quarter, and the center had eight points in less than four minutes. James only made one shot and did not score in the nine minutes he played in the first quarter.
While the Lakers worked to minimize their deficit at halftime, they made two moves to change momentum. First, Terrence Ross finished and rose by what he hoped was a dump stuck above McGee. Instead, McGee blocked Ross’s shot. Moments later, Troy Daniels made a triple and took a foul. He made the resulting free kick for a four-point play, and the Lakers entered the halftime with only 65-58.
Orlando made an effort to extend its advantage, even building it to 21 points, 87-66, in the third quarter. But the Lakers closed the quarter with a 22-2 run to reduce their deficit to one point, 89-88.
Cook, the Lakers backup point guard base that was pushed to a more important role due to Rondo’s injury and an injury to Alex Caruso’s game, opened the way. He scored the last seven points of the Lakers in the period, finishing with 13 to three quarters.