The Los Angeles Lakers picked up a 96-93 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Montrezl Harrell lost track of Wendell Carter Jr. inside, and the newly acquired Magic center finished an easy dunk with 30.9 seconds on the clock to bring the Magic to within three points.
At the other end of the court, Dennis Schroder missed a layup before a Markieff Morris three-pointer was off the mark. That left Orlando with 5.3 seconds to find the game-winner. Otto Porter Jr.'s long-range attempt hit off the back iron, and the Lakers survived.
Los Angeles improves to 2-3 since LeBron James suffered a high ankle sprain.
In what could be a sign of things to come, the Magic have dropped both of their games after trading away Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic prior to Thursday's deadline.
Chuma Okeke, PF, Magic: 14 points (5-11 FG, 3-6 3PT), six rebounds, three assists, one block
Dwayne Bacon, SG, Magic: 26 points (9-19 FG, 2-6 3PT), eight rebounds, one assist
Dennis Schroder, PG, Lakers: 24 points (7-14 FG, 1-3 3PT), six assists, five rebounds, two steals
Kyle Kuzma, SF, Lakers: 21 points (8-20 FG, 5-15 3PT), 11 rebounds, four assists
Montrezl Harrell, C, Lakers: 18 points (8-13 FG), 11 rebounds, two steals, two blocks
Lakers Offense Lacking Direction
It doesn't take a basketball expert to see how a team built around James and Anthony Davis will run into problems when both of those players are unavailable.
Even taking that into account, the Lakers' inability to build any distance between themselves and the Magic was surprising.
The absence of a true No. 1 option on offense is glaring as well. It's difficult to envision a scenario in which Kyle Kuzma attempting 15 three-pointers is a good thing, and that number is even more eyebrow-raising because he didn't have James and Davis to occupy the defense's attention.
The Lakers shot 41.5 percent from the field and 27.5 percent from the perimeter.
Los Angeles ultimately had too much talent for Orlando in the end.
Help is at least on the way in the form of Andre Drummond, whom the Lakers confirmed will be joining their ranks. Drummond will give Los Angeles a fulcrum inside to help anchor the offense when he ultimately suits up for the team.
Okeke Flashes Potential in Losing Effort
When the Magic went toe to toe with the Portland Trail Blazers in a 112-105 loss on Friday, Orlando had seven players score in double figures. That was probably a mirage as to how the offense will perform without three of its four highest scorers.
Chuma Okeke figures to be a building block for the future, and the 22-year-old was a bright spot against Los Angeles.
Having played together at the AAU level, Okeke and Carter might form a strong partnership.
One upside to starting a rebuild is that younger players who might have been overshadowed get an opportunity to climb up the depth chart. And those players will carry chips on their shoulders as they look to demonstrate their value.
If nothing else, the Magic are going to make opposing teams work, and that will make some of the losses easier to take.
The Magic stay in L.A. for a contest against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET. The Lakers host the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday in a nationally televised encounter that has lost some luster with James and Anthony Davis unavailable.