LOS ANGELES — With 0.6 seconds remaining and the Lakers down by one, Brook Lopez marched up to the free throw-line after getting fouled. His mission, should he choose to accept it, was to make two free throws to seal a victory over the Orlando Magic.
Lopez calmly made the first, then lathered, rinsed and repeated for a 108-107 victory over the Magic at Staples Center.
“I knew I was gonna hit them,” Lopez said.
Lopez scored 27 points to lead the Lakers. Kyle Kuzma chipped in 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Julius Randle had 12 points and 11 rebounds despite feeling under the weather.
Lonzo Ball scored 16 points and dished five assists. Isaiah Thomas had 13 points and made 50% of this 3-point attempts.
After Lopez made the two free throws, the Magic took a timeout and advanced the ball for a final shot attempt. On the inbounds, the clock expired without any player appearing to touch the ball.
The referees reviewed the play and called a jump ball at center court. Once the ball was tipped, the game was over.
Lakers coach Luke Walton said the referees explained to him that the rule is for a jump ball to take place in a situation where there is an issue with the clock.
“It’s a tough rule,” Walton said. “I was unaware of that rule.”
With the game tied at 85, the Lakers went an 11-0 run. But the Magic put together a 10-0 to take a 107-106 lead with five seconds left in the game.
Los Angeles did not make a field goal in the final two and a half minutes. The only points it scored were Lopez’s two free throws.
“We don’t know how to win yet,” Thomas said when asked why the team’s offense stalled late in the game. “It’s obvious. We have a young group. We’re not executing the way we need to down the stretch.”
Walton eluded to the same nation after the game.
“It felt like we started playing as if we had won the game a little bit,” Walton said.
Aaron Gordon had a game-high 28 points and added 14 rebounds, while Nikola Vucevic had 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Los Angeles built a six-point lead early in the third quarter. The Magic, however, cut their deficit to just one on a put-back dunk by Vucevic with 4:10 left in the third quarter. Jonathon Simmons hit Mario Hezonia on a backdoor pass for a layup to give Orlando a brief 74-73 lead.
Ball chased down Jonathan Isaac on a breakaway and stripped the ball out of bounds, saving a definite two points. The Lakers scored the next four points after that, and ended the third quarter with an 81-79 lead.
The Lakers pulled within two with a 16-3 run that bridged the end of the first and start of the second quarters. Thomas came in and made two 3-pointers to help Los Angeles close the gap.
Kuzma tied the game at 37 after coming up with a loose ball and converting a reverse layup while being fouled. His free throw gave the Lakers their first lead of the game, completing a 21-5 run.
The Magic took the lead back briefly, but Los Angeles answered with a 6-0 run, highlighted by Kuzma dribbling behind his back before scoring a layup on a Euro step, to take a 56-51 lead into halftime.
Gordon dunked the ball twice and made two 3-pointers en route to 12 points in the first quarter alone. The Magic led by nine heading into the second quarter, and led by as many as 15.
Magic: Travel to Sacramento to play the Kings on Friday.
Lakers: Travel to Denver to play the Nuggets on Friday.