ORLANDO — It was “Classic Night” in Orlando on Saturday; the Orlando Magic went with old-school video graphics and in-game music, as well as sweet vintage Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway uniforms from the 1990s.
As it turns out, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to participate to some degree, throwing back their defense to the start of this season, when they were horrible, as opposed to how they had been playing much improved defense more recently.
Making matters worse for the Lakers was the fact that Lonzo Ball struggled badly offensively and went scoreless with Rajon Rondo out in a 130-117 Magic rout of the Lakers at Amway Center on Saturday night.
On Sunday night, LeBron James returns to Miami, and he certainly hopes the Lakers and Ball will play better against the team of his old friend Dwyane Wade and former boss Pat Riley. It’ll be the first of two straight return games for James, who visits the Cleveland Cavaliers next Wednesday for the first time since signing with the Lakers in free agency.
“After the first quarter, we were pretty bad defensively,” said James, who had 22 points and seven assists but watched the entire fourth quarter from the bench as the Lakers never cut Orlando’s lead below double digits. “We had a lot of breakdowns, uncharacteristic of us as of late.
“But give Orlando credit. They put us in positions where Wholesale jerseys
they just kind of took advantage of not being in the right spots defensively,” James added.
The Lakers had their four-game winning streak snapped in defenseless fashion. The Lakers (8-7) opened the first quarter looking like a team that had won six of its previous seven games, scoring 31 points in the first quarter. But their defense collapsed after that, looking like the defense that surrendered an average of 120 points per game in the first 10 games of the season.
“There were a lot of things that hurt us tonight,” James said. “It’s not just one thing.”
D.J. Augustin was the latest quick guard to expose the Lakers’ defense, scoring 18 of his 22 points and hitting 7 of 8 shots over the second and third quarters. By the time Augustin was done flying by Lakers guards, the Magic were up 100-81 entering the fourth.
Nikola Vucevic also toasted the Lakers for game highs of 36 points and 13 rebounds, forcing Lakers coach Luke Walton to try to go small when Vucevic was hitting outside shots and the Lakers’ defensive center duo of JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler was ineffective.