It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers have been struggling without Anthony Davis having lost four straight. They have an opportunity to get back in the win column on Tuesday night though when they continue their road trip against the Orlando Magic in the first of a back-to-back for L.A.
The Lakers are still without Davis due to his foot injury while Juan Toscano-Anderson also remains out with an ankle issue. On the Magic side of things, they continue to play without young guard Jalen Suggs due to an ankle issue of his own as well as Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke with knee injuries.
Even at 13-21 though, the Magic present some challenges to the Lakers due to their size and length. The Lakers have one of the smaller starting lineups in the league that features three guards in Dennis Schroder, Patrick Beverley and Lonnie Walker IV.
On the contrary, outside of Markelle Fultz, the entire Magic starting lineup is 6’9″ or taller. That includes 2022 No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, who is having one of the best rookie seasons we’ve seen in a while and should be a runaway Rookie of the Year award winner.
Banchero is also trying to be the first rookie since Blake Griffin to be named to the All-Star team as the 20-year-old is averaging 21.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his first 27 NBA games.
In addition to the Wagner brothers Moe and Franz, the Magic front line also features Bol Bol, who is having a breakout season. The 7’2″ forward has been doing it all for Orlando, averaging 12.1 points and 7.1 rebounds while shooting 59.5% from the field and 40.3% from deep.
Rebounding has been an issue for the Lakers without Davis in the lineup, so they are going to have to commit to the glass to limit Orlando to one shot per possession. It will be interesting to see if Darvin Ham gives Thomas Bryant and Wenyen Gabriel more minutes than usual to combat the Magic’s size.
The one thing the Lakers do have going for them is that LeBron James continues to play at an extremely high level, even in Year 20 and on the verge of turning 38. James has scored 30 points or more in seven straight games, averaging 33.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists while shooting 57.8% from the field in that span.
James needs some help though, so others like Walker, Beverley, Schroder, Russell Westbrook and Austin Reaves have to help carry the load, particularly when LeBron is off the floor.
Los Angeles Lakers (13-20) vs. Orlando Magic (13-21)
4 p.m. PT, December 27, 2022
Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Lonnie Walker IV
PF: LeBron James
C: Thomas Bryant
Key Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves, Troy Brown Jr., Wenyen Gabriel, Max Christie
Projected Magic Starting Lineup:
PG: Markelle Fultz
SG: Paolo Banchero
SF: Franz Wagner
PF: Bol Bol
C: Moe Wagner
Key Reserves: Cole Anthony, Wendell Carter Jr., Terrence Ross, Gary Harris, Mo Bamba
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