Second half sends the Magic to defeat against Lakers

Dwight Howard scored 22 points in 97-84 loss to the Lakers. AP Photo/Gus Ruelas

They had a great early start.

But it did not result in a Hollywood ending for the Orlando Magic.

Instead, the Magic (42-26) allowed a five-point halftime lead to escape, losing 97-84 Monday night at Staples Center.

It sure was a frustrating one.

For a team that Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy has described as not playing 48 minutes, at times they did not look motivated.

The story tonight was the Lakers’ (48-20) ability to make it count on the stat sheet.

“The game was on the boards and taking care of the ball,” said Van Gundy following the game.

Like Van Gundy said, not only the case tonight, but failing to get rebounds and turning the ball over has led losses against Chicago and Portland recently.

“We’re not talking one or two more turnovers, I mean you have 13 more turnovers than your opponents and you give up 14 offensive rebounds, you’re going to have a problem winning the game,” he added.

Although Dwight Howard led Orlando with 22 points and team-high 15 rebounds, he contributed to the Magic woes with nine turnovers.

In total, the Magic committed 18 turnovers, which resulted in 20 points for the Lakers.

Howard battled against Andrew Bynum, allowing 10 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots from the Lakers’ center.

You can’t help but shake your head in frustration when offensively the Magic shot better than L.A. (47.1 percent to 43.8 percent) from the field and made four more 3-pointers than their west coast counterpart.

In a battle of heavyweight teams, it was the small things that put L.A. over Orlando and evened up the season series at 1-1.

While Kobe Bryant was a game-time decision, he did in fact start after suffering an ankle injury against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. Even after he started off sluggish, Bryant contributed 16 points.

For the Magic, Ryan Anderson not only contributed right away with two quick 3-pointers and 13 points, but also defended Pau Gasol well at the beginning. Gasol missed 5 of his first 6 shots in the game before eventually picking up the pace and scoring a game-high 23 points.

J.J. Redick, who strained a muscle in his lower abdomen before Saturday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, missed his third game in a row and is day to day.

Usually known to turn up in the fourth quarter, tonight Orlando could not keep the momentum going from their good play early on.

“I thought our ball movement was very good early and very poor in the second half,” Van Gundy said.

Even in the loss, Orlando had good production from the starting rotation (each of starters scored in double-figures) with Brandon Bass adding nine points from the bench.

The Magic conclude their five-game road trip Wednesday at Milwaukee. A win, and the trip ends successfully. But a loss leaves behind a sour taste.