Lakers hold off Magic 108-107 in bizarre ending
Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso (4) is defended by Orlando Magic guard Brandon Ingram (14) and forward Wes Iwundu (25), who fouls Caruso during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
By Greg Beacham, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Brook Lopez scored 27 points and hit two free throws with 0.6 seconds to play, and the Los Angeles Lakers blew a nine-point lead in the final 90 seconds before rallying back to beat the Orlando Magic 108-107 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time).
The game ended with a curious officiating decision. When the Magic inbounded the ball at midcourt after Lopez's free throws, the Staples Center clock apparently started before anyone had touched the ball. But after video review, the officials ruled the teams must have a jump ball at center court, effectively preventing the Magic from getting a final chance to win.
Aaron Gordon scored 28 points and made a driving, go-ahead layup with five seconds to play for the Magic, who trailed 106-97 before scoring 10 straight points. Lopez drew a foul while backing into the low post with 0.6 seconds left, and he coolly made both free throws.
Gordon added 14 rebounds, while Nikola Vucevic had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Magic, who have lost nine of 11.
Kyle Kuzma had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Lakers' sixth victory in seven games, avenging an embarrassing loss in Orlando five weeks ago by recording their 10th win in their last 11 home games. Lonzo Ball added 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Los Angeles broke open a tie game with an 11-0 run midway through the fourth quarter, catalyzed by Isaiah Thomas and capped by Lopez's thunderous dunk with 6:09 to play. But the Magic stormed back and trimmed LA's lead to 106-105 when Jonathon Simmons made one of two free throws with 33 seconds left.
Thomas added 13 points and nine assists off the bench for the Lakers, who thrived despite the absence of leading scorer Brandon Ingram for the third straight game due to a strained groin.
Orlando routed the Lakers 127-105 at Amway Center on Jan. 31, even without Gordon in the lineup. That embarrassment partly sparked the Lakers on their current run of strong form, with nine wins in 14 games since that defeat.
The Magic jumped to a 15-point lead in the first quarter of the rematch, but Kuzma led the Lakers to a five-point halftime lead.
Magic: Before the game, Orlando waived guard Rashad Vaughn. His sore knee would have prevented him from playing out the rest of his second 10-day contract, so the Magic made the move. ... Evan Fournier scored 11 points before being sidelined during the second half by a sprained left knee.
Lakers: Kuzma had one of his best games of 2018, getting at least 20 points and 10 rebounds for the first time since Dec. 22 (Dec. 23, PHL time) at Golden State. ... They wore their powder-blue Minneapolis Lakers throwback uniforms. ... Ingram won't return until Sunday (Monday, PHL time) against Cleveland at the earliest. ... The seven-foot Lopez somehow didn't get a rebound in 35 minutes of play.
Magic: At Sacramento Kings on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) for the third stop on a five-game road trip.
Lakers: At Denver Nuggets on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time).