Magic Vs. Lakers: Kobe Bryant Takes Over In Third As L.A. Beats Orlando

Kobe Bryant, be it knee injury or general exhaustion, didn't have it early on Monday night. He shot just 2-10 in the first half, and because Kobe didn't have it but kept shooting, it looked like the Los Angeles Lakers were on their way to a loss. But it clicked back together in the third, as Kobe scored 11 points on 5-8 shooting and the Lakers turned a deficit to the Orlando Magic into a lead. The Lakers' bench handled it from there, and L.A. won 97-84.

Kobe ended up shooting 7-19. He played just over two minutes in the fourth, because his bench was kind enough to 71-66 lead at the end of the third into 85-69 lead a few minutes into the final period. Phil Jackson took the opportunity to rest Kobe, who was a game-time decision due to an ankle sprain aggravated in Saturday's win over the Dallas Mavericks. Bryant hasn't missed a game all season.

Dwight Howard was powerful for the Magic, scoring 22 points on 8-14 shooting with 15 rebounds and two blocks. But Howard had an unbelievable nine turnovers -- half of Orlando's 18 -- and that helped the Lakers to 20 fast-break points.The Lakers, meanwhile, only turned the ball over three times, tying the season's lowest mark (Philadelphia had three vs. the Clippers in December). The difference between three turnovers and 18 made up for Orlando's better shooting. The Lakers' 14 offensive rebounds didn't hurt, either.

Gilbert Arenas shot 0-6 off the bench.

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