Orlando Magic Grades: Los Angeles Lakers 96, Orlando Magic 93

Mohamed Bamba had some positive moments in the Orlando Magic's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Mar 28, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol (14) is guarded by Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba (5) in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mohamed Bamba had some positive moments in the Orlando Magic's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Mar 28, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol (14) is guarded by Orlando Magic center Mo Bamba (5) in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

93. 38. 96. 20. Final

Otto Porter was making his Orlando Magic debut and was going to get the biggest shot of the game.

Down by three points and desperately trying to get back into the game after two boneheaded plays by the Los Angeles Lakers — a three from Marcus Morris with seven seconds left when all he had to do was wait to get fouled to ice the game and Kyle Kuzma stepping out of bounds after he tracked down the rebound — the Magic had one more chance to steal a victory in this debut game.

Porter was still getting his feet wet clearly. He was not tearing things up or hunting for shots in his role off the bench. But this is the moment and the reason a player like Porter is on a young team like Orlando.

He got the ball off a screen, pump-faked to get Wesley Matthews out of the way and had a clear look at the basket. After draining a 3-pointer to beat the third-quarter buzzer, it seemed like this could be another basket and one that would reward the Magic for their efforts with everything they were trying to piece together on the fly.

But Porter’s shot fell off the back rim and no good. There would be no overtime in a 96-93 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Sunday.

The Orlando Magic got some encouraging performances from their debuting players and several others. But mistakes cost the team down the stretch.

Instead, Orlando would have to stew on both the organization that still has to come, the effect of Michael Carter-Williams’ absence had after he left in the first half and the missed rebounds and fouling that ultimately cost the Magic a lead in the fourth quarter.

Orlando is still mastering the basics in so many ways. But even some of these basics should have been down pat.

But the Magic can be happy with how their new players seemed to fit in. They were a bit cautious but all made a positive impact for good portions of the game. Even though the Magic’s offense bogged down and they struggled to hit shots — 38.6-percent and 11 for 33 from beyond the arc — there was good energy. Especially defensively where the Magic might still be able to hang their hat.

That might be something to build upon.

Orlando Magic. DWAYNE BACON. B+. . G/F

Dwayne Bacon is going to be the player now who drives Orlando Magic fans mad. The team lacks many players who have creative force and Bacon is really good at getting into the lane. The other parts of his game become questionable. Bacon is skilled at creating and taking tough shots. But making them are another thing.

He had both things working in this game. He scored 26 points on 9-for-19 shooting. The Magic could spend much of the game turning to him to get into the paint and get a basket. But the fourth quarter was rough for him. Those wild, contested shots stopped going down. And instead, Bacon became something of a black hole killing Magic possessions with rushed or contested shots at the rim.

A. . F. Orlando Magic. CHUMA OKEKE

Chuma Okeke continues to look impressive in his first run through the NBA and his first taste of major minutes for the Orlando Magic. He continued to step up with big plays on both ends and his game is growing seemingly game by game. The first half offense was terrible except for Okeke’s shooting. If anything, Okeke’s notable absence offensively in the fourth quarter was a part of why the Magic’s offense started to sputter.

Okeke is not just shooting — although he did that with 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting and 3-for-6 shooting from deep. His defense remains very good. But his game is growing in other ways. He grabbed six rebounds and was tough getting rebounds in traffic. He seemed to have instant chemistry with former AAU teammate Wendell Carter, finding him on several pick and rolls — yes, he ran pick and rolls.

The fact Okeke played fewer than 30 minutes (by a hair) seemed like a crime. He was the best and most productive player on the floor for the Magic, even if he is still not having plays run for him or can create off the dribble consistently himself.

R.J. HAMPTON. B. . G. Orlando Magic

R.J. Hampton is still a bundle of potential. That was evident from the way he played in his Orlando Magic debut. On one hand, he scored a career-high 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting. He looked like he played with some bounce and energy. He was going to make things happen. His eight rebounds were evidence of that.

The Magic saw why he is best suited for the 2 at the moment. The team had to play Hampton at point guard for a small stretch and it was not productive. And not because Hampton does not quite know the plays either. His ball handle is a little loose and he had a few plays that got caught into turnovers because he could not handle the ball effectively.

Orlando Magic. MOHAMED BAMBA. B. . C

After a terrible game Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers where Mohamed Bamba struggled with rebounding positioning and got bullied, he looked a lot better in this game. He made a quick impact with a few blocks and looked more comfortable and decisive on the ball. For the second straight game, e used the threat of his 3-point shot to get a drive to the basket. That is a good sign for him and the flashes of his talent are all still there.

But Bamba still has so much work to do and it is painfully obvious. The Magic do not have the trust with him right now. And that is fair. The young player still has to prove consistency and that he can man the middle defensively. It is still not clear whether he can be consistent enough on that end. He is trying to earn the chance to prove otherwise. Sunday was a good step.

C. . 30-17. 4th West. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Make no mistake, the Orlando Magic had some good moments and players doing all they could, but it is still a long climb to get to winning consistently. The Magic still had a lot of bad things happen that they could prevent and they took themselves out of a position to win as much as they put themselves in one.

The Los Angeles Lakers were not super engaged with this game. They looked like they could sleepwalk through this. And they missed a ton of open 3-pointers as the Magic got some good 3-point luck in their favor. The Lakers were upset with their effort overall as they struggled to match the Magic’s energy throughout the game. But Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell proved to be more solid veterans to deliver the win.

It's a fresh start for Orlando Magic's newcomers. dark. Next

The Orlando Magic are now 15-31 and 14th in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Chicago Bulls by five games for the final spot in the Play-In Tournament. The Orlando Magic continue their road trip Tuesday against the LA Clippers.