April 15, 2014

D'Angelo Russell still doesn't know how the Los Angeles Lakers blew out the best team in basketball. The same elite team didn't have that comfortable of a time turning it around on the Orlando Magic to establish an NBA-record home winning streak.

It's back to a similar weight class for both Tuesday night in Los Angeles with some added confidence as the Lakers try for a third win in five games.

Sunday's 112-95 home win over Golden State came with Kobe Bryant spending the fourth quarter on the bench nursing an aching right shoulder. The Lakers (13-51) already led by 11 entering the fourth as Russell and Jordan Clarkson outplayed Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Clarkson finished with a game-high 25 points and Russell had 21.

"I really don't know how we came together for yesterday's game," Russell told the team's official website. "But we did it and shocked a lot of people - we shocked ourselves. We knew what we were capable of, but we did it."

Clarkson was 4 of 6 from 3-point range and has averaged 18.6 points while shooting 46.6 percent from deep in his last nine games.

"We got to put another one together tomorrow," Clarkson said. "It doesn't mean anything if we come and get blown out tomorrow. If we get blown out, that's taking steps back for us."

Russell has started the last eight and scored 19.9 points per game while connecting on 49.0 percent from beyond the arc, and in those eight games with the rookie at point guard, Los Angeles has limited itself to 10.9 turnovers per game after being at 14.1 through 56 contests. Russell has a 2.50 assist-to-turnover ratio in that time with 2.00 turnovers per game, while he added four steals as the Warriors turned it over 20 times.

What might have been most impressive was the defensive effort with the Warriors going 4 of 30 from 3-point range, including 1 of 18 from Curry and Thompson. That, however, has hardly been a trend with the Lakers' last 10 opponents shooting 50.5 percent and 41.1 from beyond the arc for 113.2 points per game without going to overtime.

"I was thinking after the game: 'Maybe we have turned that corner and our guys are showing some maturity and some growth,'" said coach Byron Scott, whose team is playing the third of an eight-game homestand. "We'll really see what we have tomorrow."

The Magic have won the last two meetings, including a 101-99 home victory Nov. 11, but the Lakers have won the last two in Los Angeles.

Orlando (27-35) was in it until the end in Monday's 119-113 loss at Golden State despite allowing the Warriors to shoot 50 percent and hit 16 of 35 from 3-point range. The Magic stayed in the game because Golden State turned the ball over 24 times.

Aaron Gordon had 20 points and 16 rebounds as Nikola Vucevic sat out because of a strained groin, and Evan Fournier and Brandon Jennings each scored 20 as well. It was Jennings' top scoring effort in 10 games with his new team.

As for Vucevic, he made it sound like the nagging injury will keep him out longer than a game as Orlando enters the second of a four-game road trip.

"It's just a bad time because we're trying to make the playoffs and this is a really big trip for us," Vucevic told the team's official website. "It felt better during the All-Star break, but after that I just reaggravated it, so it's frustrating now."

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