February 29, 2024

If the first week of the NBA season is any indication, nothing is going to be easy for the Lakers.

Playing a younger, bigger, more athletic team Monday in the Orlando Magic, the Lakers were again badly beaten on the glass. Their depth, again, was overstated as their opponent’s bench outperformed theirs.

And for the third time in four games, the Lakers were in a fight down to the final possessions.

Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Lakers got the buckets and the stops they needed late, gutting out a 106-103 win Monday night at Crypto.com Arena.

The Magic, who scored 20 second-chance points, had a chance to force overtime at the buzzer off an offensive rebound, but Jalen Suggs’ shot rimmed out.

D’Angelo Russell scored 28 points — including 12 in the fourth quarter — and had eight assists. Anthony Davis had 26 points and 19 rebounds and LeBron James had 19 points.

Austin Reaves scored 11 and Gabe Vincent and Christian Wood each scored nine, with Wood also grabbing nine rebounds.

Rui Hachimura, one of the Lakers caught in the rotation crunch early in the season, didn’t play because of an eye contusion he sustained in Sunday’s overtime loss in Sacramento.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham said Hachimura is day to day.

“I don’t recall exactly when it happened. I remember him grabbing it though,” Ham said. “Obviously, waking up, sleeping on it, having a tough night sleeping … sensitive to the light, which triggers headaches, so we just thought it’d be best for him to just sit this one out.”

Without Hachimura, Ham tightened the rotation to nine players, though the Lakers got no production from Cam Reddish and Jaxson Hayes, the two combining for four rebounds and two assists.

The Lakers, who led by 11 in the first half, trailed in the fourth quarter by as many as five. They finished on a 12-5 run. Their 28 assists were a team-high this season.

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