Montrezl Harrell rescues Lakers in win over lowly Magic

L.A. ends three-game losing streak with victory in Orlando
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Montrezl Harrell was a healthy scratch in the Los Angeles Lakers’ disheartening loss to the Dallas Mavericks over the weekend.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said he wanted to keep all three centers fresh, playing Marc Gasol in place of Harrell as the backup center behind starter Andre Drummond.

Well, Harrell retuned to his usual role as the energy guy off the bench on Monday, leading the Lakers to a comeback victory over the young Orlando Magic, 114-103.

The win ended a three-game losing streak for the Lakers in a game Anthony Davis said was a must-win for his team.

Maybe the game also showed Vogel “must play” Harrell when he’s healthy. Harrell finished with 18 points, five rebounds and three steals.

Harrell let out a bellowing scream as he slammed through the basket and go fouled near the end of the third quarter.

“He was great,” Vogel said, when asked how Harrell handled not playing against the Mavericks on Saturday. “He understands the big picture and what we’re trying to get accomplished. And he was great with it. He understood.”

The Lakers led by as many as 16 in the first half. However, the Magic used a 40-22 second quarter run to take a 56-50 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The Magic pushed ahead by as many as seven points in the third quarter. However, led by Harrell's energetic performance in the second half, the Lakers took the lead early in the fourth and held off Orlando the rest of the way. 

In his third game back from a right calf strain, Anthony Davis shot 8-for-15 from the field and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes.

The Magic have lost 12 of their last 13 games and dropped to 18-43 overall. The Lakers improved to 36-25 on the year. 

Top player: Dennis Schröder finished with a game-high 21 points and 10 assists, helping to lead L.A’s comeback in the second half. Schröder scored 13 in the fourth quarter. 

What I liked: The Lakers led in second-chance points (19-6) and paint points (56-40). 

What I didn’t like: L.A. finished 11-for-31 (35.5 percent) from beyond the arc and just 9-for-14 (64.3 percent) from the free throw line. 

Injuries: Alex Caruso suffered from back spasms and had to leave the game. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope returned from an ankle injury that forced him to miss a game, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds. 

They said it: “It's a sense of reflection, looking back at what we were able to accomplish here. For me, the history is greater because obviously I coached here a few years back, so there's a little bit of that in there, too. But I'm very excited with what we accomplished as a group here last year, and excited about what we can accomplish with this year's team as well.” – Lakers head coach Frank Vogel commenting on coming back to the Orlando bubble where his team won the NBA title last year