The Los Angeles Lakers’ Jekyll and Hyde act continued apace over the weekend, with aFriday night blitzing (17 3-pointers, 54 percent shooting, a 28-and-20 performance by Dwight Howard and 122 points) of the Denver Nuggets giving way to a Sunday night stumbleagainst an Orlando Magic team that entered Staples Center at 5-10, losers of three straight and five of its last seven. But in the two teams’ first meeting following the four-team, 12-player offseason blockbuster that sent Howard from central Florida to Hollywood, the Magic hung with a Laker side that’s experienced its share ofturmoil this season, too, and pulled away with a 35-19 burst over the game’s final seven minutes.
The loss drops the Lakers to 8-9, a below-.500 mark that seems stunning given both the collection of talent on hand and the statistical note that L.A.’s got a top-five offense and a top-10 defense in terms of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com’s stat tool. The win-loss-win-loss trading, the alternating progress and regression on display every night, has been somewhat understandable — after all, the team has had three different head coaches in the space of a month and has been without injured star point guard Steve Nash, expected to be the triggerman first for Mike Brown’s new-look Princeton offense and now for the spread pick-and-roll system he ran under Mike D’Antoni for years in Phoenix, for all but 50 minutes this season. Still, explanations aside, this is hardly the way most figured the Lakers would look one-fifth of the way through the 2012-13 season