Kim Klement/USA TODAY
Tobias Harris was not expecting the pass to come bouncing up to him as he trailed Victor Oladipo on the fast break. Really, the way he was rebounding, he was probably just trying to get in good position for a rebound in case Oladipo ended up missing the shot.
Instead, Oladipo made the <ahem> simple play of bouncing the ball between his legs to Harris. Harris said he was not expecting the pass, but when it came he knew what to do with it. That is just basketball, Harris said. A team playing the right way and, most importantly, having fun.
After Harris jammed the ball into the basket with about two and a half minutes left in the third quarter, drawing a foul on Kendall Marshall and giving the Magic the lead for good, he gave Oladipo a chest bump as the Lakers called timeout. It sparked a 14-0 run to end the third quarter.
Orlando had an 11-point lead and did not let the Lakers make any serious challenge in the fourth quarter for a 114-105 win at Amway Center on Friday night.
"It's flashy, it got the crowd going and it was a good pass," Harris said. "[Oladipo] kept saying, he's happy I caught it because coach would have got on him if I didn't. It was flashy."
Oladipo agreed, but the "feathery" play was only a highlight in a very efficient and stellar performance from Harris. It was the caps-locked starting salvo of the Magic's offensive, fast-breaking onslaught on the Lakers in the second half.
Harris scored 28 points on 9-for-15 shooting and grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds, using the space of the Lakers 4-out/1-in offense to help on the glass. It was Harris' first 20/20 game. He was a constant source of offense and an extremely reliable option for the team as it struggled with turnovers early on in the game and just tried to keep pace with a Los Angeles team full of shooters.
Harris was the one that was in a supreme rhythm.
"Sometimes when he is not in a rhtyhm, he is going to shoot it," Kyle O'Quinn joked. "Nah, but Tobias was the fuel in that second group. We rode off him. He brought the energy productively and we just fed off his."
Others started rolling soon after Harris got going, particularly in the 38-point third quarter, the Magic's highest scoring period of the season. Arron Afflalo scored 23 points and dished out six assists on 7-for-12 shooting. Jamer Nelson added 22 points and six assists. Victor Oladipo had 15 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
The Magic offense got rolling, attacking the Lakers defense and getting to the foul line 34 times, making 27. Harris got there 11 times alone. The aggressive nature of Orlando's offense helped them withstand Los Angeles' 12 made 3-pointers.
It seemed every time Los Angeles tried to make a run, Orlando had an answer.
The Magic dug down hard on defense and buckled down after struggling to get out to the shooters in the first half. They turned those turnovers into transition opportunities — 17 fast break points on the evening — and aggressively went after the glass — eight offensive rebounds for 15 second-chance points.
Orlando was winning all the hustle stats and beating Los Angeles to the ball time and time again.
"I think because we made stops, we were able to get out on the break," Oladipo said. "We just got to continue to keep building off that and realize when we continue to help each other — jumping passing lanes, digging for each other and stunting for each other — that it creates havoc and helps us get out on the break."
The Lakers offense eventually ran out as they struggled finishing in the paint. And the Magic protected the ball more, enabling them to run their extremely fluid offense. The Lakers were not going to have enough to disrupt the offense if the Magic were not going to make mistakes and remain aggressive.
So after a game in which Orlando seemed frustrated down the stretch, the teamnot only withstood every Los Angeles punch but slammed the door down the stretch. The Magic left no doubt about this one, finally putting together a strong performance and building off the successes of the previous game.
"For me, those are the areas that I look to when I review the tape — How was our response," Vaughn said. "We haven't been great probably the last three games in the third quarter. This time, we took a punch but we didn't wilt. That was good to see. The first unit responded and the bench held up their end of the bargain."