Lakers (46-17) vs. Magic (43-20)
Time/TV: 2:30 p.m./ABC
Key Matchup: Pau Gasol (16.9 PPG, 11.2 RPG; 18.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG in 2009 NBA Finals) vs. Rashard Lewis (14.8 PPG, 39% 3FG%; 17.4 PPG, 40% 3FG% in 2009 NBA Finals)
Season Series: Lost 98-92 in Los Angeles on Jan. 18; Today in Orlando
-UPDATE Kobe Bryant did not arrive to Amway Arena with the team today because of a stomach ailment, but he is at the arena now and will play.
-Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes the Lakers are back in town for the first time since spraying champagne all over the visitor’s locker room and the memories from that last appearance have not died quietly.
-Kobe Bryant is not happy with losing and Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reports Bryant had some words with his teammates as Los Angeles hopes to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2007.
-Tania Ganguli of The Orlando Sentinel said the Magic expect a playoff atmosphere today at Amway Arena for the Lakers.
-Phil Jackson had an “air it out” session for his team after Los Angeles lost to two quasi-.500 teams, reports Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
-Orlando has faced some pressure from its fans in trying to repeat its trip to last year’s Finals. Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports Lakers fans share some of our same consternations for the Lakers in their title defense.
-Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times writes Los Angeles sometimes makes less with more.
-Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News writes the Lakers are trying to regain some of their lost mojo in today’s game.
-Eddie Rivera of Orlando Pinstriped Post previews today’s game with Forum Blue and Gold’s Darius Soriano.
-Andrew Melnick of Howard the Dunk has a quick recap of what happened in last year’s Finals (like you need a reminder) and what happened in the team’s first meeting.
-Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold gets a preview of the Magic from Eddie Rivera of Orlando Pinstriped Post.
-Silver Screen and Roll previews today’s game and is feeling a lot of bad mojo entering the game. Then again, Los Angeles tends to relish these type of statement games.
-Chris Shellcroft of Lake Show Life has the latest on the new hairdo Ron Artest will sport for today’s game. Oddly reminiscent of former Laker Dennis Rodman. Artest put defense in three different languages in his hair.
-In a strange arrangement, Phil Jackson introduced Charles Oakley to Pau Gasol after Friday’s loss to Charlotte. Chris Shellcroft of Lake Show Life hopes some toughness rubbed off.
-Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles writes Los Angeles has plenty to prove as the team tries to defend its title.
-John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com writes beating the Lakers has been at the forefront of many Magic player’s minds.
-John Carroll of Scouts Inc. breaks down the matchups in today’s game between Orlando and Los Angeles.
-Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm discusses Brian Skinner’s paper, “The Price of Anarchy,” from the Sloan Sports Conference. In it, Skinner argues that it is more efficient for teams to have a more balanced attack rather than letting a star player go bonkers. Interesting implications for today’s matchups.
-A new study shows Tim Duncan has the most valuable blocks in the NBA and Dwight Howard has the least (but they also make SportsCenter and keep the third row at Amway Arena on their toes). Sebastian Pruiti of NBAPlaybook.com goes into more detail on the value of a blocked shot.
-The Painted Area is one of the many reporters covering the Sloan Sports Analytic Conference and writes about the “The Limits of Moneyball” panel.
-Zach Lowe of Celtics Hub, also reporting from the Sloan Conference, details whether coaches should listen to advanced stats and how they can best use them.
-Jard Wade of Hardwood Paroxysm discusses it is not what statistical model coaches and general managers use, but rather how they use them.
-Brian Robb of Celtics Hub reviews a study on referee bias from the Sloan Conference.