With their season-best five-game winning streak no more, the Los Angeles Lakers are back on the court to face an Orlando Magic team that has lost eight of their last 10 games and is tied for the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
Some of that is due to a rash of injuries, including to key players Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. But all of that isn’t to suggest the Lakers should take the Magic lightly. Orlando shot the lights out from deep to come away with a blowout win in their first meeting.
“Normally with that, when there’s so many different players playing and it was a while ago, we just move on, but that one brought up a lot of frustration and anger,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said at shootaround.
“So we decided to show them clips of how we were playing that night, to hopefully bring up that same frustration and anger in case they forgot what that felt like down in Orlando.”
As the Magic hit the reset button, it’s created more opportunities for D.J. Augustin, Mario Hezonja and Jonathon Simmons. Augustin has turned into the playmaker of sorts for the offense, but can be prone to turnovers.
He totaled five assists in the Magic’s previous game against the Utah Jazz, but also finished with four turnovers.
While Simmons roams free in the open court, Evan Fournier has taken on scoring duties for this team, leading the team with an average of 17.9 points per game.
Unlike their late January game with the Magic, the Lakers this time have Lonzo Ball. Of course, they in turn are without Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram. Ball took Monday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers personally, putting the blame on himself for Damian Lillard’s explosive fourth quarter.
Even with the defeat, the Lakers are 9-4 in their last 13 games. Head coach Luke Walton still hasn’t shifted the conversation to making a push for the playoffs, but he said players in the locker room do discuss as much.
Three Keys To Victory
Keep Pushing The Pace:
The Lakers lineup continues to exude youth and athleticism that excels in the open court. The Lakers have been able to turn defensive stops into quick transition points, especially with the return of Paul.
A solid defensive approach early on can lead to lots of breakaway points, which could put the lead out of hand.
Close Possessions With Rebounds:
The Magic and Lakers both rank amongst the middle of the NBA regarding field goal percentage, but there is a clear difference that aids the Lakers. Los Angeles is third in the NBA with 11.0 offensive rebounds per game, while the Magic rank at the bottom with an average of 8.7.
If the Lakers can close out possessions with a rebound, they can limit Orlando’s second-chance points and add to their pace.
Shoot With Confidence:
Los Angeles needs to continue this change in confidence and increase in expectations, as they push themselves to play at a higher level. When the team can selflessly sacrifice for one another, they create an environment they can thrive in together. The Lakers should come out hungry Tuesday night, ready to make a statement.
Los Angeles Lakers (28-35) Vs. Orlando Magic (20-44):
7:30 P.M. PST, March 7, 2018
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Kyle Kuzma
PF: Julius Randle
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Isaiah Thomas, Ivica Zubac
Projected Magic Starting Lineup:
PG: D.J. Augustin
SG: Jonathon Simmons
SF: Evan Fournier
PF: Aaron Gordon
C: Nikola Vucevic
Key Reserves: Mario Hezonja, Shelvin Mack, Jonathan Issac