Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard had one of those nights on Friday, that strike fear in the other 29 teams in the Association. Howard once again joined the most exclusive fraternity in the NBA; “CLUB 20-20” as he scored 21 points and grabbed 23 boards and helped his club lay waste to the visiting Los Angeles Lakers by a final score of 92-80. Los Angeles limped out of the game to start the contest and Orlando showed no mercy holding a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter. The Magic were so dominant in the first 24 minutes of play that even with the Lakers outscoring them in the final two quarters; the outcome of the game was never really in doubt.
The final score would have been far more lopsided if not for the efforts of Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant who scored 30 of his team’s 80 points for the night. The fact that the “Black Mamba” did make up most of the Los Angeles offense may not bode well for the club; historically Bryant’s frustration with his teammates has led to him taking over most of the scoring duties during a game. Lakers coach Mike Brown has to make sure that the club’s leader trusts and works with the other players on the roster for his team to be legitimate contenders this season.
The visitors may have been tired after being beaten by the Miami Heat on Thursday night, but what ever the reason was the club looked lethargic and out of sync in the opening period. They would score just ten points in the first 12 minutes of play and the Magic with very little effort held a 22-10 advantage at the end of the quarter. Los Angeles was better offensively in the second, but Orlando sprinted even further ahead during the quarter. Quentin Richardson buried a 24 foot trey with 51 seconds to play and the Magic walked into the locker room at the half on top 48-31.
The Lakers recovered their shooting touch in the second half; however it was far too little and far too late for them to threaten their hosts. Howard knocked down a four-foot shot with 31 seconds on the clock in the third and Orlando would hold the upper hand with the score 67-52 at the end of the period. Los Angeles would never get closer than being down by eight points in the final quarter and the Magic won the game with ease.
Howard put 21 points on the scoreboard, grabbed 23 rebounds of the backboard, 2 assists, a block and a steal in the victory. Jameer Nelson had 17 points, 9 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal while J.J. Redick put up 15 points, 6 assists and 2 rebounds. Ryan Anderson added 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals while Jason Richardson chipped in 12 points, 4 rebounds and an assist.
Bryant had a game high 30 points, 8 assists and 3 rebounds while Pau Gasol notched a double-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists. Derek Fisher scored 12 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals while Andrew Bynum recorded a double-double as he had 10 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in the loss. Orlando now lead the Southeast Division with a record of 11-4 and head to Boston to take on the Celtics on Monday while Los Angeles now trail the Clippers by percentage points for the top spot in the Pacific Division with a 10-7 mark and will host the Pacers on Sunday.