Preview: Magic make way back home, host surging Lakers
TV: FOX Sports Florida
Time: Pregame coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.
The Orlando Magic might feel a little fatigued Wednesday after unsuccessfully trying to defend James Harden Tuesday in Houston.
Their reward is a home game against an opponent with two days off and on its best run of the season.
After allowing 60 points to Harden, the Magic complete a back-to-back set by hosting the Los Angeles Lakers.
Not only did Orlando allow 60 points to Harden in a 114-107 loss, they allowed the star guard to get a triple-double, making him the first player with a 60-point triple-double. It also was four points shy of Orlando’s team record for points allowed set by Michael Jordan in 1993.
Being unable to stop Harden sent Orlando to 31th loss in 37 games. Orlando is 3-11 since stopping its second nine-game losing streak Dec. 28 and eight of its losses have been decided by single digits.
Despite not shutting Harden down, the Magic played well in other areas. Orlando shot 50.6 percent and hit 15 3s, marking the fourth time it made at least 15 from 3-point range.
“Our guys competed,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “I’m proud of the togetherness and energy our group is playing with.”
Mario Hezonja and Marreese Speights led the Magic with 17 points. They compensated for the absence of leading scorer Aaron Gordon who sat out with a strained left hip flexor.
The Magic are 1-9 when Gordon sits. It is unknown if the forward will play Wednesday.
“I’m proud of our performance, our effort,” Vogel said. “We got to put this one behind us and try to get the Lakers (Wednesday).”
With Gordon possibly missing another game, the Magic will hope for better showings from their starting backcourt. Evan Fournier finished with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting while point guard Elfrid Payton was held to four points.
Before their quiet showings, Fournier was averaging 22.2 points in his last five games while Payton was averaging 17.8 points on 59.7 percent shooting in his last six contests.
Los Angeles (19-30) is 8-3 in its last 11 games after a nine-game losing streak from Dec. 22-Jan. 5. The Lakers are averaging 108 points on 47.2 percent shooting in their last 11 contests.
The Lakers saw their second four-game winning streak snapped with Sunday’s 123-111 setback at Toronto. Los Angeles allowed the Raptors to shoot 50 percent and it was the third time in this 11-game stretch an opponent made half its shots, which prompted Tuesday’s practice to focus on defense.
“We wanted to get up and down,” Los Angeles coach Luke Walton told reporters. “Get a good sweat going, compete a little bit. We did our cutthroat drill. The drills we were doing you won by getting stops today. That was the main thing in practice.”
Los Angeles key scorers struggled as Brandon Ingram (4 of 14), Brook Lopez (3 of 10) and rookie Kyle Kuzma (3 of 9) endured rough nights.
“We just didn’t play well enough to win against a team like this on the road,” Walton said. “We didn’t make shots. You got to really go after and get it and for whatever reason we didn’t play with that same edge tonight and they made us pay for it.”
Kuzma is averaging 16.3 points but is struggling in recent road games by averaging 10.8 points on 39.4 percent shooting in his last six away games.
Ingram also has hit a rough patch. Although he scored 25 points Friday in Chicago, the second-year forward is averaging 8.4 points on 31.9 percent shooting in his last five contests.
One player not struggling is Julius Randle. He posted his third double-double in four games with 17 points and 10 rebounds Sunday. Randle is averaging 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in his last eight games.
The Lakers continued to play without rookie guard Lonzo Ball, who is recovering from a left knee injury. Ball will not play Wednesday but is on the trip and working out.