How much trouble are the Lakers already? After last week’s slump the team kept on playing at a mediocre level thus failing to turn a close game on their favor, allowing 40 points from their opponents on the last quarter. The Orlando Magic were trailing by four late in the third quarter, when they wisely changed their defense against Dwight Howard, sending him to the free throw line, his weak spot. After consecutive fouls in the post, Howard, a below 60% free throw shooter in his career, missed 10 shots in 18 attempts, giving Orlando the chance to light up and gain momentum. His former team kept rolling and opening the gap in the fourth quarter and finally gave the Lakers their fifth home loss this season.
Kobe Bryant again had a game high 34 points but shot only 12-27. Howard had 21 plus 15 rebounds, but his 9-21 from the charity stripe (including two consecutive misses that could trim Orlando’s lead to 4 points with about three minutes left in the game), destroyed his good presence throughout the game. On contrary, the Orlando Magic got some nice performances from its units and as a team also. Aaron Afflalo led the way with 30 points in 4-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Glen Big Baby Davis finished the game with 21 grabbing 12 rebounds, quite a nice performance for him bearing in mind he faced two of the best big men in the league. The team had 5 players in double figures, including a 19-point and 13-assist performance from point guard Jameer Nelson.
“It means a lot to me. We can all say it was just a basketball game, but we know. …”he stated after the game.
The Lakers still wait the return of Steve Nash, who has remained sidelined since 31st of October. The latest update regarding his return, estimates that he will come back in a couple of weeks, almost before Christmas. However, the misfortunes seem to be endless for LA, who will most probably have to wait two more weeks to see backup point guard Steve Blake to return to the game. He is scheduled to undergo another surgery. Until then, the team has to rely on the young Darius Morris. Also, Pau Gasol will be on the spectator seats on Tuesday’s game against the Rockets due to a tendinitis in both knees.
Let’s hope the Lakers do find a way to break this slump and improve the mentality and the momentum within the team. They really need a win or two to get back on track and apart from the better performances of their star players; they also impatiently wait the return of Nash.
Next stop for the Lakers, Tuesday at the Houston Rockets and for the Magic, Wednesday at Utah against the Jazz.