Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma Lead Lakers Past Magic for 2nd Straight Win

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell (15) dunks against the Orlando Magic during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

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.


Notable Performers

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.

Anthony F. Irwin @AnthonyIrwinLA

Orlando still being in this game is pretty embarrassing for the Lakers. Can’t lie.

claire de lune @ClaireMPLS

the lakers without ad and lebron are the rockets 🥴

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.

Laker Film Room @LakerFilmRoom

We've had a ton of "shooting turnovers" in this game, which is when you have a wild drive/shot that has no chance of going in and gives Orlando out on the fast break.

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.

Josh Robbins @JoshuaBRobbins

Chuma Okeke's feel for the game is impressive, especially for a rookie. He knows his strengths and his weaknesses. He has 11 points, three rebounds, one assist and one block tonight, with 8:12 remaining in the third quarter.

Orlando Magic @OrlandoMagic

.@chuma_okeke is hoopin' Wednesday: Career-High 𝟭𝟕 points Friday: New Career-High 𝟐𝟐 points Sunday: ????? https://t.co/08dy6IZ2yW

Michael Gallagher @MikeSGallagher

Even with all these new players, Chuma Okeke isn't going away. Can see Clifford meant what he said when they wanted to get Chuma more touches on O.

Having played together at the AAU level, Okeke and Carter might form a strong partnership.

Orlando Magic @OrlandoMagic

From AAU to the @NBA. @chuma_okeke → @wendellcarter34 https://t.co/4po5w9CsQM

Orlando Magic Daily @OMagicDaily

You can tell Chuma Okeke and Wendell Carter have played together before. Okeke and Carter have run some simple PnR actions and Okeke has delivered some nice passes. #Magic

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.


What's Next?

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.