Orlando Magic Grades: Los Angeles Lakers 119, Orlando Magic 112

The Orlando Magic have proven capable of competing against the best teams in the league. But they are missing a key piece they alone can fix. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic have proven capable of competing against the best teams in the league. But they are missing a key piece they alone can fix. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic hit a crater offensively before recovering in the second half to make it a game, raising concerns and hope for the season.

38. Final. 119. 20. 112

No one would blame the Orlando Magic for being frustrated through the first half. It was the kind of offensive shooting performance that would make you rage quit a game of NBA 2K if it happened.

Nothing seemed to fall. Open shots. Drives to the basket. Even a stray contested shot. It just was not the Magic’s afternoon.

The Orlando Magic made only 11 of 50 shots in the first two quarters against the Los Angeles Lakers. It had the makings of a game that was very much a preseason game but something quite more alarming.

The team only has so much time before the games count. And while the team can excuse a bad performance now, it wants to see progress toward the beginning of the season.

This was not progress for the team. Not merely because of the poor shooting, but because of the way LeBron James, Anthony Davis and even Kyle Kuzma carved the team up. The Magic were able to take advantage of the Los Angeles Lakers’ own preseason play — high turnovers and fouling — to stay within contact.

But down 19, it was easy to give in to frustration. It was easy to see this team had a lot of problems. That there was no switch to flip — especially after four months.

The concern over the team’s shooting remains. But the Orlando Magic, just as they did after a poor second quarter against the LA Clippers, recovered. They made 11 of their first 15 shots in the third quarter.

They made it a game again, briefly taking the lead in the early fourth quarter as both teams sat their starters. The Lakers won the game 119-112, using Dion Waiters’ 12 fourth-quarter points to keep the Magic’s deep bench at bay.

Orlando can walk away from the game concerned with the team’s overall shooting and even some of its execution. And the team should absolutely be concerned with its defense — which still was not playing physically or providing much resistance in transition.

But the team can also be thrilled that it continues to fight and find a way to compete. That the Magic are not turning the ball over and executing to get good shots — even if they are not falling right now. And that Orlando can make adjustments and execute them in game.

Perhaps the Magic can take that to heart as they try to round themselves into form. But there is still a lot of work to do to get there.

The Magic made only incremental progress, if that. And it came after taking what felt like a monumental step back.

<a href=. PG. Orlando Magic. D.J. AUGUSTIN. B+

C+. The Orlando Magic spent much of the game trying to figure out the best use for <a href=. F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON

EVAN FOURNIER. C-. <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic

A. <a href=. C. Orlando Magic. MOHAMED BAMBA

The Los Angeles Lakers have one advantage over the Orlando Magic. Well, two. And those two advantages were on full display as the Lakers took control of the game early on. Anthony Davis scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds in less than 10 minutes. LeBron James scored 20 points to go with seven assists. They seemed to be easing their way through the game, picking their spots to attack a Magic defense that was not defending at anywhere near a high level.<p>The rest of the game for the Lakers? Outside of Kyle Kuzma draining five of his seven 3-pointers and Dion Waiters having a mini offensive burst to close the game in the fourth quarter, the Lakers looked like they were very much in a preseason game. They turned the ball over a ton — 23 for 37 Magic points — and they fouled even more — 34 fouls for 44 Magic free throw attempts.</p><p>The Lakers’ offense and defense were both at a high level for stretches. The Lakers did a better job crowding the Magic’s offense especially early in the game. They played with more physicality and intensity and the Magic could not find the answer. But the game was far closer than it should have been. It is hard to tell if it was Lakers’ inefficiency or letting the foot off the pedal.</p>. 49-14. 1st West. LOS ANGELES LAKERS. B

Next. Orlando Magic have to build fast as final scrimmage nears. dark

The Orlando Magic close their scrimmage schedule Monday night against the Denver Nuggets.