Pre-Game Report: Lakers Finish Florida Road Trip Against Magic

Los Angeles Lakers (10-6) at Orlando Magic (10-4)
5:00 PM PST, January 20, 2012
Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Radio: 710 ESPN

Magic Projected Starting Line-up

PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: J.J. Redick
SF: Quentin Richardson
PF: Ryan Anderson
C: Dwight Howard

Key Reserves: PF Glen Davis, G Von Wafer

Injuries: SF Hedo Turkoglu, GF Jason Richardson

The Lakers remain in Florida to face Dwight Howard and the Magic. The Magic were off to a strong 10-3 start then dropped a close game against the Spurs on Wednesday. Injuries are catching up to the Magic, and they may be without Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson on Friday night. The Lakers look to close out their road trip with a win in Orlando.

Frontcourt: Trade rumors were rampant this off-season involving Dwight Howard and the Lakers. The talks seemed to have died down now that the season is in full swing and it remains to be seen if the Lakers will swing a trade for Dwight before the March deadline. Dwight currently headlines the Magic frontcourt. His numbers have been exceptional this year: 20.1 points, 15.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. Superman’s kryptonite are free throws, which he shoots at a dismal 45 percent. At the four, Ryan Anderson has emerged as a significant player. He’s the second leading scorer on the team with 17.8 points and 3.3 treys on 41.4 percent from downtown. These are absolutely stunning numbers from 6’10’’ power forward. Hedo rounds out the frontcourt and has contributed 4.9 assists and 2.5 treys per game. However, he had back spasm problems and was replaced in the line up by Quentin Richardson. First off the bench is “Big Baby” Glen Davis who has struggled to get it going offensively this year.

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Backcourt: J.J. Redick has played his best season yet and this year he’s starting at the two instead of coming off the bench. He averages 12.4 points per game with 1.3 treys. One thing that has stood out about his play this year is that he isn’t settling for jump shots; he is taking the ball to the rim and getting to the foul line. Jameer Nelson has been the Magic’s biggest disappointment of the year. His averages are down, but he doesn’t seem phased one bit – as long as the Magic are winning then he’s happy. Richardson is out with a knee injury, but in his place Von Wafer has produced results off the bench. Wafer has scored in double digits in the past two games and has shown that he’s ready to contribute.

Keys to Lakers’ Victory:

Cut down on Turnovers – I’m going to keep saying this every write-up until it isn’t a problem. Kobe is averaging nearly 4 turnovers a game which is unusually high even for him. Bynum has also had trouble holding on to the ball. He needs to keep a strong grip and stay strong all the way to the hoop.

When in Doubt, Foul Howard – I’m not invoking the Shaq clause here; the Warriors took “Hack-a-Dwight” to the extreme en route to putting Howard on the line for an NBA record 39 freebies. However, there is some wisdom to fouling Howard, especially when he’s deep in the painted area. Howard’s statistics speak for themselves: 59 percent from the field and 45 percent from the line.

Win the Battle of the Post – Bynum versus Howard. This duel between two of the NBA’s best young centers will be a treat to watch. In two games last year, Howard shot 70 percent from the floor against the Lakers while Bynum shot 44.5 percent. The battle of the boards was nearly even and they both had the same number of blocks. Bynum is playing the best basketball of his career and we’ll see if he’s ready to assert his dominance against Howard.

Lakers Injury watch: Steve Blake (fractured rib cartilege, out until mid-February), Derrick Caracter (torn meniscus in left knee, out through January).

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