L.A. Lakers vs. Orlando Magic: Postgame Grades and Analysis for L.A.

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L.A. Lakers vs. Orlando Magic: Postgame Grades and Analysis for L.A.
Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Eat your heart out, Orlando.

Dwight Howard led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 106-97 victory over the Orlando Magic in his first return to the house Mickey Mouse helped build since being traded.

Howard was greeted with an ensemble of boos and general jeers when his name was announced. It was the welcome he expected and one, judging by his bemused facial expression, he seemed to enjoy.

As much as this was about Dwight's return to Orlando, though, it is now about the Lakers recapturing that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Superman (Iron Man?) and crew came out gunning, seemingly ready to blow the Magic out of the water in the first quarter—except it didn't pan out that way.

Orlando hung tough, taking a one-point lead into the second quarter and staying within four headed into halftime. The Magic then found themselves within striking distance as they entered the final period.

Courtesy of an odd-ball lineup to start the fourth, though, the Lakers began to pull away. Orlando made one last run, but it was staved off by Howard himself, who left the game after his third emphatic block.

Save for Derrick Rose's return, this is The Return most of us have been waiting for.

And it was one Howard (and the Lakers) made the most of.

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