The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off a 127-100 win over the Miami Heat on Friday night. Six players scored in double figures, led by Lou Williams with 24 points. They took advantage of the Heat missing Hassan Whiteside and scored 68 points in the paint and grabbed a total of 70 rebounds. Tonight they welcome the Orlando Magic to Staples Center. In their last meeting on Dec. 23, the Lakers lost 109-90 with Elfrid Payton leading the Magic with 25 points.
The Magic are coming to town with a two-game losing streak, their latest a 100-93 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday night. D.J. Augustin led the team with 19 points and two assists. In the last game against the Lakers, they finished with 11 blocks that ultimately made things tough for the Lakers to get anything toward the basket.
The Magic backcourt is held down by Evan Fournier and Elfrid Payton. Fournier leads the team in scoring this season, averaging 17.5 points per game. When he play well, the Magic usually follow suit. D’Angelo Russell will certainly have his hands full tonight in trying to defend Fournier.
Payton, as stated earlier, killed the Lakers in their last meeting when he finished with 25 points. He is averaging 11.5 points per game, but his greatest asset may be getting his teammates involved. He is averaging 5.8 assists per game. Payton is not a good three-point shooter, shooting only 25.9 percent so if he is shooting from beyond the arc, let him.
D.J. Augustin, C.J. Watson, and Jodie Meeks give the Magic solid depth off the bench. Augustin is averaging 8.8 points and 3.1 assists per game. He is capable of having a big scoring night so the Lakers must make sure he does not get into a rhythm early. Meeks and Watson are good shooters, especially Meeks who is a deadly three-point threat.
Russell and Nick Young are potent scorers for the Lakers. Russell is coming off a 19-point outing on Friday night against the Heat. Tonight he will need to play the way he has against a solid backcourt of Fournier and Payton.
Young has been especially effective from the three-point line, shooting 43.7 percent on the season. When he catches fire, there is really no stopping him. He also should be able to take advantage of a smaller defender and use his size to work his way down toward the basket for higher percent shots.
Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson are key factors for the Lakers in most games. When they are playing efficiently and scoring the ball, the Lakers become a much tougher team to beat. If they can get going early and limit turnovers, they will give themselves an excellent shot of winning the game.
The frontcourt of the Magic is as lengthy as they come. Serge Ibaka, Aaron Gordon, and Bismack Biyombo are probably the most active group there is in the league. Although neither player is great offensively, their defensive prowess is elite.
All of them can rebound well and block shots. The bigs of the Lakers must use fundamentals and block out their man to secure rebounds effectively. Even though it will be a challenge, I’m sure Julius Randle and Timofey Mozgov learned their lesson from their last meeting that they have to play with energy.
Nikola Vucevic and Jeff Green come off the bench for the Magic. Vucevic is a big body who can hold his own down in the block against players his size. He is averaging 13 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Green is a good player who is knocking down 39.1 percent of his shots. The Lakers will need to do a good job of making sure both players do not have big nights because if they do, things probably will not end well.
The trio of Mozgov, Randle, and Luol Deng are playing well for the Lakers right now. Deng has noticeably been playing like the player the Lakers had hoped for. In his last 10 games, he averaging 9.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. When he is playing like the way he has, it gives the Lakers another offensive threat on the court.
Randle is perhaps the most important player on the team. When he is playing well, the Lakers are a totally different ball club. What makes him effective is his ability to effectively score, rebound, and pass the basketball. He will be counted to play well tonight for the Lakers to come out with a victory.
Mozgov has kind of seen his playing time in the second half of games decrease as Luke Walton has opted to play Thomas Robinson and Tarik Black more. Mozgov still gives the Lakers a solid defensive presence, but both Robinson and Black provide great energy and better mobility against some of the more agile centers in the league.
Brandon Ingram has also been a playing a bit better offensively. He is still struggling, but that fact that he is driving more toward the basket is a testament to his hunger of wanting to be more aggressive and not waiting for his shot to fall.
3 Key to Victory
Limit Second Chance Points
The Magic occupy a very lengthy frontcourt that can rebound the ball effectively. By limiting the opportunities of second-chance points, the Lakers will be able to get set up defensively and hopefully play good sound defense. If the Magic can get offensive rebounds, it will put the Lakers in a bind that will have them scrambling trying to stop the ball.
Make The Bigs Of Orlando Beat You
Between Ibaka, Gordon, and Biyombo, Ibaka is the better offensive player of the three. When either Gordon or Biyombo get the ball in mid-range territory, they should play off of them and let them shoot the ball. If all of them start getting easy baskets around the rim, the Lakers will have a difficult time stopping them.
When the Lakers are playing loose, they become more comfortable on the court, which tends to translate in better offensive possessions. Playing timid does not bode well for the Lakers because then they start and turning the ball over and make bad decisions.
Los Angeles Lakers (14-26) Vs. Orlando Magic (16-22)
6:30 P.M. PST, January 8th, 2017
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Magic Starting Lineup:
PG: Evan Fournier
SG: Elfrid Payton
SF: Aaron Gordon
PF: Serge Ibaka
C: Bismack Biyombo
Key Reserves: D.J. Augustin, C.J. Watson, Jodie Meeks, Jeff Green, and Nikola Vucevic
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Tarik Black, Thomas Robinson