The last time the Los Angeles Lakers took the court, they suffered a heartbreaking loss on a buzzer-beater by the Dallas Mavericks.
Now, they look to pick up the pieces and bounce back when they host the Orlando Magic on Sunday night in what is essentially a must-win game. The loss to the Mavericks dropped the Lakers to 34-37, which is 11th place on the outside looking in of the Western Conference playoff picture.
The Lakers are still just two games out of the sixth seed, but they are running out of time to make up ground with only 11 regular-season games remaining. That’s what makes games like Sunday night against a non-playoff opponent all that more important.
Even though the Magic are outside the postseason at 29-42 though does not mean the Lakers can take them lightly. Orlando has a lot of length and young talent, and that was on display on Saturday afternoon when the Magic beat the L.A. Clippers in the same building.
If the Lakers come out flat as they have so often in recent weeks, then the Magic will be ready to pounce with guys like Paolo Banchero, Wendell Carter Jr. and Markelle Fultz all playing at a high level.
Carter, especially, is coming off one of the best games of his young career as he had 27 points 12 rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks against the Clippers. He will match up with Anthony Davis, who is looking to bounce back after some crucial mistakes late in the loss to the Mavericks.
The Magic’s size may be a struggle for the Lakers considering they are still undersized with both LeBron James and Mo Bamba dealing with their respective foot and ankle injuries.
That means that Wenyen Gabriel should continue to see an increased role, perhaps even closing the game as he did against Dallas. Regardless though, the Lakers as a team must crash the glass to limit the Magic to one shot per possession if they want to have a chance in this one.
Los Angeles Lakers (34-37) vs. Orlando Magic (29-42)
6:30 p.m. PT, March 19, 2023
Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Malik Beasley
SF: Troy Brown Jr.
PF: Jarred Vanderbilt
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Dennis Schroder, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, Wenyen Gabriel
Projected Magic Starting Lineup:
PG: Markelle Fultz
SG: Gary Harris
SF: Paolo Banchero
PF: Franz Wagner
C: Wendell Carter Jr.
Key Reserves: Cole Anthony, Bol Bol, Goga Bitazde, Caleb Houstan
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