Lakers vs. Magic: In-game report
Lakers 98, Magic 92 (final)
The rematch of last season's NBA Finals participants had its ebb and flow all game.
But just like in last June's Finals, when the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic in five games to win the NBA championship, L.A. put together the last run, playing great team defense, sharing the basketball and watching their bench contribute big-time in the victory Monday night at Staples Center.
The Lakers opened a 13-point lead in the first quarter, but saw that erased to the point they trailed by nine points in the third quarter.
But the Lakers' bench put their fingerprints on the game at the end of the third quarter and early in the fourth, scoring 15 consecutive points during that stretch.
It was Lamar Odom, Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar who supplied the energy off the bench for the Lakers during that span.
Odom did so by crashing the offensive backboards. Brown did so by making shots and Farmar by making shots and hustling on defense.
Brown scored a career-high 22 points, making two free throws with 19.5 seconds left that put the finishing touches on the Magic. Brown was eight-for-12 shooting from the field.
Odom had nine points, 16 rebounds and five assists. Farmar had 11 points.
Kobe Bryant had a horrible shooting night, making just four of 19 shots for 11 points.
Dwight Howard led the Magic with 24 points and 12 rebounds.Magic 68, Lakers 64 (third quarter)
The Lakers fell apart in the third quarter, the defense nowhere to be found, their intensity lacking.
A 14-0 Magic run put the Lakers on their heels.
After Kobe Bryant scored to finally answer Orlando's rally, the Magic knocked down two consecutive three-pointers, extending their run 20-2 and the lead to 67-58.
The Lakers didn't look as if they were playing with the same intensity, with the same effort they displayed in the first quarter when they opened a 13-point lead.
Bryant had an awful shooting night through three quarters, going three for 15.Lakers 52, Magic 47 (halftime)
The Lakers didn't play as inspired in the second quarter tonight at Staples Center, seeing their once 13-point lead cut down to five points at the half.
Kobe Bryant had just four points in the first half, missing five of his seven shots.
But Shannon Brown came off the bench to score 11 points on four-for-five shooting, making his only three-point shot, in the second quarter to off-set Bryant's lack of scoring.
Ron Artest added 10 points for L.A. in the first half.
Dwight Howard had 18 points on nine-for-12 shooting and six rebounds in the first half for the Magic. Matt Barnes has eight points and five assists for Orlando.Lakers 33, Magic 25 (first quarter)
From the start, it was clear that the Lakers were going to attack the Magic inside tonight.
And when the Lakers successfully did that, it allowed them to get wide-open jumpers.
The Lakers scored 16 points in the paint in the first quarter. When the soft Magic defense collapsed inside, the Lakers ripped them with three-pointers, making four for five.
Andrew Bynum attacked Dwight Howard on the first play, driving in for a layup from the high post. Bynum then took a pass from Kobe Bryant and threw down a dunk.
That was how the Lakers started, going to Bynum, who picked up two fouls with 7:52 left in the first and was forced to take a seat on the bench.
It didn't matter. The Lakers ran out to a 13-point lead.
Derek Fisher had eight points for a Lakers' team that shot 60.9% from the field. Fisher made all three of his shots, both of his three-pointers.Pregame
It's a rematch of the NBA Finals, but it's not an overly hyped game like so many in the past.
Still, the Lakers prepared to play the Orlando Magic at Staples Center tonight as if the game had meaning.
Not the same meaning as when the Lakers beat the Magic in five games in the Finals to win the NBA championship last June.
But meaningful in that the Lakers want the Magic to know how serious they are.
Meaningful in that the Lakers want to leave home with a win before they embark on an eight-game, 13-day East Coast trip starting Thursday in Cleveland.
If Kobe Bryant scores 30 points tonight against the Magic, he'll have 25,000 points in his career.
Bryant, who still is not fully recovered from back spams, will become the 15th player in the NBA to do so.
As for the rest of the game, one of the more interesting matchups will be between Lakers center Andrew Bynum and Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is trapped along the baseline by Magic center Dwight Howard (12) and forward Matt Barnes (22) during the first quarter Monday night. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images