The Los Angeles Lakers hope to extend their winning streak to 10 games as they take on the Orlando Magic at Staples Center. The Lakers won their first meeting 96-87 in a game where the Magic were held to nine first quarter points, and will look to keep the good mojo going with a season sweep over Orlando. In their last matchup, LeBron starred as he dropped a 25-11-10 triple double, while the Magic will be without their leading scorer from that contest in Jonathan Isaac, who is out with a knee injury.
For the season, Orlando’s leading scorer has been Evan “Please For The Love Of God Do Not Google My Name” Fournier, who is averaging a modest 19.2 points per game at just over 31 minutes per game. The real story with this team has been the ascendance of Markelle Fultz, who has found a new lease on life down in Florida. The former first overall pick is averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game, but his best work has been on the other end of the floor, as he leads the team in steals per game. While he’s still not much of a threat from deep (26.5%) he’s shown enough diversity on offense where you can’t ignore him, as teams did during his doomed Sixers days.
The Magic currently find themselves in the battle to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, as they are currently the seventh seed. As shown by their last meeting, Orlando is not necessarily proficient scoring the basketball, ranking dead last in points per game and 26th in offensive rating. They average the second fewest turnovers, however they also have the third worst true and regular shooting percentages in basketball.
Where they make their money is on the defensive end, ranking 5th in defensive rating and 1st in opponent points per game (103.5), which won’t be a surprise to Lakers fans after they held Los Angeles to 96 points earlier this season. It will be tough for them to find easy buckets in this game, so they will need LeBron to remain the facilitator, and they will need to isolate the Magic’s relatively immobile big men in the pick and roll. Despite their defensive numbers, they’re relatively middle-of-the-pack when it comes to opponents shooting percentages, so it’s not as if the Lakers can’t exploit their defense. They will need their outside shooters (KCP, Danny Green, and Kyle Kuzma in particular) to step up and help the Lakers pull away from a pesky opponent.
The Lakers and Magic tip at 7:30 PST. Follow us on Twitter for more updates.