TV: ABC RADIO: 580 WDBO Previous games: Game 1: Lakers 100, Magic 75 Orlando Magic: PG: Rafer Alston SG: Courtney Lee SF: Hedo Turkoglu PF: Rashard Lewis C: Dwight Howard L.A. Lakers: PG: Derek Fisher SG: Kobe Bryant SF: Trevor Ariza PF: Pau Gasol C: Andrew Bynum Thoughts:
The Magic are 6-0 this season after losing a game by 15 points or more, and five of those wins were by double-digits.
Orlando has struggled with three or more days off this season, which have played a small part in Thursday’s poor performance. In games with 3+ days off this season, Rashard Lewis shot 29 percent from 3-point range, Hedo Turkoglu shot 32 percent from the field, and Jameer Nelson averaged only 13.3 points (and yes, it feels good to include Nelson in this writeup). If history is any indication, Orlando will bounce back.
Tonight we’ll find out how much of Orlando’s offensive problems had to do with the Lakers’ defense and how much had to do with a poor shooting night. Certainly Los Angeles’ length and versatility gave Orlando problems, but when the Magic shoot 29 percent from the field, it’s more than just good defense. Without a doubt, though, this matchup isn’t favorable for the Magic. The Lakers’ forwards are too lengthy, their big men are skilled, and there’s a lot of versatility at the 3 and 4 spots. It’s not a good sign when Courtney Lee – Orlando’s best perimeter defender all year – can’t play because he’s being exposed on defense.
Mike Bianchi wants Jameer Nelson to start, and I can’t say I agree. He’s clearly not right, and the Magic beat two 60-win teams with Alston at the helm. This was my biggest fear with Nelson: nobody’s content with their all-star point guard playing 15-20 energy minutes a game, even though that’s the type of player he is right now. Conditioning, rust and endurance are going to affect Nelson, no matter how badly people think it won’t.
Fouls permitting, I’d expect to see Dwight Howard and Marcin Gortat share the floor for an extended stretch tonight, or see Tony Battie play some crucial minutes early. The Magic have to find a way to cope with the Gasol-Bynum duo, which creates a mismatch at the power forward position that benefits L.A. more than it does Orlando.