Five things to take from Lakers' 92-80 loss to Orlando Magic
1. The Lakers hardly had any energy in their 92-80 loss Friday to the Orlando Magic. Mike Brown should seriously reassess whether it was a good idea to ignore his coaching staff and play his starters heavy fourth-quarter minutes in a blowout loss Thursday to Miami. Right when the ball tipped off, the Lakers lacked energy. Say what you want about the compacted NBA schedule, lack of practice time or a cross-country flight before back-to-back games. Yes, all that contributes to any team's fatigue. But Brown needlessly playing the starters heavy minutes against Miami seriously hurt their chances against Orlando.
2. Pau Gasol displayed a tale of two halves. Part of Gasol's listless first-half energy can be attributed to Brown playing him late in the fourth quarter against Miami. The other part of his zero-for-five mark in the first half points to Gasol's disinterest in the game. He settled on too many mid-range jumpers. Gasol normally makes those. But when he's matched up against Ryan Anderson, he has to pound it relentlessly inside. Fortunately for Gasol, he changed his tune in the second half. The Lakers improved their ball movement. He cut more down the lane and into the post. And he remained aggressive enough to post 13 second-half points on four-for-seven shooting. Too bad it came too late.
3. Andrew Bynum vs. Dwight Howard was a disappointment. This was supposed to be an intriguing matchup between the Lakers' rising center and the Lakers' trade prospect. Instead, Bynum fell into early foul trouble for the second consecutive game. With 6:11 left in the first quarter, Bynum was called for his second foul and sat out the rest of the quarter. When he was in the game, Bynum played without much post presence, which partly contributed to Howard finishing with 21 points and 23 rebounds.
Bynum's 10 points on four-for-six shooting and 12 rebounds might have proven to be enough in other seasons. But not now. Instead, Bynum's virtual no-show severely hurts his market value as the Lakers try to explore deals within the next month.
5. Credit Kobe Bryant for showing up. Save for his late technical foul, Bryant played a great game overall. He attacked the basket and took well-timed jumpers en route to 30 points on 11-for-22 shooting. Bryant hustled when all of his teammates didn't. And he even brought an honest defensive effort. It's glaringly obvious that Bryant doesn't have the reliable supporting cast he needs. It's also unfair that Brown played him for 44 minutes. But kudos to Bryant for remaining competitive despite all the swirling negativity.
*I was going to bring up Metta World Peace's scoreless effort for the third time this season. But what's the point. Aside from Steve Blake's return, there's nothing the bench has shown this season that suggests it can significantly improve.
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Photo: Magic center Dwight Howard works in the post against Lakers center Andrew Bynum in the first half Friday night in Orlando. Credit: John Raoux / Associated Press