The Magic were going to ride emotion as long as they could against Dwight Howard and the Lakers at Amway Center. The crowd was going to give it to them as they welcomed Howard back to his old stomping grounds for the first time as an opponent.
The Magic fans booed loudly and roundly. Howard smiled back, mocked booing at himself too and basked in everything that was the atmosphere of his first return. He then went to work, doing everything he could not do in that first game.
There were still moments of revelry though. Plenty of them.
These are the moments Magic fans will hold on to as the Lakers continue their fight for the Playoffs and the Magic fade closer to counting the ping pong balls as the goal for their season.
There was Jameer Nelson shooting a floater over Dwight Howard to end the first half and bring Orlando within four points. There was Tobias Harris rising high and blocking Howard's layup from behind to ignite a fast break that ended with Arron Afflalo making a layup to give Orlando a 57-56 third-quarter lead.
That might have been the end of the high points on this night. The Lakers defense was difficult to crack with the Magic settling for jumpers for much of the night and keeping an eye on No. 12 patrolling the paint. The Lakers broke free after the Magic took that momentary lead and went on a 14-3 run to take a double digit lead and cruise uncomfortably at times to a 106-97 win at Amway Center on Tuesday.
The Lakers never quite pulled away from the Magic. The lead went out to as much as 16 points and Orlando kept fighting and fighting. There was not a moment the team would go out with a whimper. There was no quit. There just were not enough made shots to win.
Orlando shot 39.8 percent from the floor and committed 14 turnovers for 17 Los Angeles points. It seemed when the Magic were about climb over the hill and take the lead or get back into the game, the Lakers would follow with a big shot from Jodie Meeks or Metta World Peace or Antawn Jamison.
The Magic could rarely answer.no comments