The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 106-97 Tuesday in Dwight Howard’s first return to Orlando since being traded to the Lakers this past offseason. Howard scored a season-high 39 points and added 16 rebounds in the win.
Dwight Howard made 16-of-20 free throws in the second half to hold off his former team. Howard took 39 shots from the free throw line in the game, tying a career high in attempts.
Kobe Bryant finished with just 11 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists against the Magic. Bryant couldn’t find his rhythm, shooting just over 28 percent going 4-for-14 from the field.
Metta World Peace scored 14 points for the Lakers while Steve Nash added 11 points and two assists. Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks both finished in double-figures off the bench.
The Orlando crowd gave Howard one heck of a time during the game, flashing signs at the All-Star all night including one that said “Dwight Coward.” The chants and signs had no affect on Howard as he put up some of the best numbers he has all season.
The Magic were led by point guard Jameer Nelson, who finished with 21 points and seven assists. Nikola Vucevic became Dwight Howard’s replacement after the trade and has been pretty good this season. Vucevic is fifth in the NBA in rebounding and finished with 11 Tuesday night.
Tobias Harris was surprisingly great for the Magic in the loss, scoring 15 points in the first half alone. Harris finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to stick with the Lakers.
Orlando has lost five of their first seven game in the month of March and sport one of the worst records in all of basketball. The Magic let go of many stars this offseason, including Dwight Howard and Jason Richardson, which has led to their fall in the Eastern Conference.
The Lakers have won four straight games and are playing their best basketball of the season. The streak has moved the Lakers above the Utah Jazz for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Lakers are just two games behind the Golden State Warriors for second in the Pacific Division. The teams only loss in March came against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder a little over a week ago.
Kobe Bryant and company take their streak to Atlanta Wednesday for a meeting with the Hawks. The Hawks have lost three straight as they look to hold on to one of the last playoff spots in the East.
A few weeks ago, the Lakers were in the middle of one of their worst starts in history, and everyone was waiting to see them perform up to their talent level, which has finally come just at the right time. The Lakers beat the Magic as Dwight Howard returns to Orlando and puts on a show in one of his most dominating performances of the season.