The Magic are fourth in the Eastern Conference and are three and a half games behind the Miami Heat. Dwight Howard collected 23 straight double-doubles in 24 games. Howard missed one game due to a suspension for receiving his 16th technical. Howard could potentially hurt the Magic down the stretch if he is unable to control himself on the court. For every technical he receives now the Magic will have to deal without their only true center for one game, and losing Howard cost them in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Orlando still has a chance to take home court advantage from the Miami Heat, but could also fall behind the Atlanta Hawks.
The Lakers rallied late on Saturday night to top the Dallas Mavericks in Mark Cuban’s house. Unfortunately, Kobe sprained his left ankle and is listed as day-to-day. Bryant will be a game time decision on Monday night against the Magic at the Staples Center. Knowing the Mamba, he won’t turn down an opportunity to play unless the injury is really bothering him.
With Bryant shooting under 40% in the past two games, Andrew Bynum has been the focal point for the Lakers. Bynum was especially important in their win against the Mavericks when he had 22 points on 9-12 shooting and snatched 15 rebounds. Ron Artest was also a factor as he added 12 points and eight boards.
Keys to Lakers victory:
Three-point shooting – The Lakers shot 12% in their last meeting with the Magic from behind the arc. They’ll need a higher percentage tonight in Los Angeles.
Get to the line and make the free throws – Kobe took zero free throw attempts in Orlando last month. The Lakers themselves shot just 46% at the line, and a majority of those shots came from Lamar Odom.
Take advantage of Orlando’s limited options – The Magic either shoot the three or give it to Howard in the paint. If the Lakers can take one of those options away the Magic won’t be able to produce enough offense to contend with Los Angeles.
Keep an eye on Gilbert Arenas – Arenas is an L.A. native. He always loves to put up a great show for his fans here. He averages 25.8 points against the Lakers in his career.