The Los Angeles Lakers will once again be without Anthony Davis as they look for their second straight win against one of the league’s lottery-bound teams, the Orlando Magic.
Davis missed the Lakers most recent game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, where they won in blowout fashion, 116-95. He missed the game due to knee soreness and although Frank Vogel revealed everything is intact structurally and he’s day-to-day moving forward, he is sitting out one more as a precaution.
The Lakers are also without Kendrick Nunn and Trevor Ariza, both of whom are yet to step on the court this season. But even with all three players out, L.A. should have no problems with the Magic.
Orlando is already 17 games below .500 and are 0-4 on their current Western Conference road trip. In that time, they’ve lost by two points to the Houston Rockets and L.A. Clippers while also suffering blowout losses to the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings.
Their Friday night win against the Thunder showed that they are learning how to take care of business against an inferior opponent. Poor effort against bad teams was an infuriating staple of the Lakers during the first 20 or so games of the season, but Friday’s win may have indicated a change in that mindset.
They need wins like this while at home against teams like the Magic, as their schedule starts to toughen up very quickly. L.A.’s next six games after Sunday include Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, the Chicago Bulls, and the Brooklyn Nets.
Without clarity on one of their three superstars in Davis, the Lakers margin of error becomes that much smaller in order to secure victories against quality opponents. The Magic provide some relief if LeBron James and Russell Westbrook can come out strong.
James put together one of his best games of the season on Friday night, while Westbrook took a back seat with just eight points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Perhaps the two can trade places against the Magic, with Westbrook taking the lead and James doing some in-game load management.
To do that, they’ll need continued help from role players like Avery Bradley, who had 22 points against the Thunder. It would also be a great game for a Talen Horton-Tucker breakout, as he’s been deeply inconsistent since returning from injury.
Lakers (14-13) vs. Magic (5-22)
6:30 p.m. PT, Dec. 12, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Talen Horton-Tucker
PF: LeBron James
C: Dwight Howard
Key Reserves: Malik Monk, Austin Reaves, Carmelo Anthony, Wayne Ellington
Projected Magic Starting Lineup:
PG: Cole Anthony
SG: Gary Harris
SF: Franz Wagner
PF: Wendell Carter Jr.
C: Mo Bamba
Key Reserves: Terrence Ross, Moe Wagner, Chuma Okeke, R.J. Hampton
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