Orlando gets better of Howard, stuns Lakers
LOS ANGELES - Reuters
Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson (R) drives to the basket as he is defended by former teammate Dwight Howard (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half of their NBA game at the Staples Center. EPA photo
The Orlando Magic caught fire in the fourth quarter to stun the Los Angeles Lakers 113-103 and get the better of former player Dwight Howard on Dec. 2.
In their first meeting since trading Howard to Los Angeles in the off-season, the struggling Magic surprised the Lakers by scoring 40 fourth-quarter points to snatch the road victory. Arron Afflalo led the way with 30 points while Glen Davis added 23 and 12 rebounds to help Orlando (6-10) snap a three-game losing streak and win the battle against Howard.
“It means a lot to me,” Magic guard Jameer Nelson told reporters of the win. “We can all say it was just a basketball game, but we know (it wasn’t).”
Kobe Bryant tallied a game-high 34 points and Howard finished with 21 and 15 rebounds against his old team, but it was not enough to help the Lakers (8-9) under new coach Mike D’Antoni.
Los Angeles blew out Denver in one of their best performances of the season on Nov. 30, but are just 3-4 since D’Antoni took over. Things have not gone smoothly for Orlando either this season since a souring relationship with All Star center Howard led to them trading him to the Lakers.
Howard, who spent his first eight seasons in Orlando, said it was just another game.
“That chapter was closed when I was traded. It wasn’t emotional,” he said. “It just bothered us that we didn’t play the way we needed to. We were a step slow tonight.”
The Magic found their form in the fourth where they entered trailing by four before outscoring the home team by 14.
An 8-0 run late in the period gave Orlando a 98-89 advantage before Nelson added a three-pointer to all but clinch the win.
Nelson finished with 19 and 13 assists as the Magic shot 50 percent from the field and stretched the Lakers defense with 34 assists.
Los Angeles is adjusting to new roles under D’Antoni, and Pau Gasol in particular is having a difficult time. The Spaniard had 11 points and seven rebounds but found himself on the bench in the late minutes for a second straight game.