Los Angeles Lakers @ Orlando Magic


The Orlando Magic will look to bounce back from their overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs when they host the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night.

The loss dropped the Magic to 10-4 and ended their five-game winning streak.

The Lakers fell to 10-6 after getting blown out by the Miami Heat Thursday night.

The Magic rank sixth in offensive rating (107.5), 15th in defensive rating (102.0) and play at the league’s 24th fastest pace (89.9). The Lakers are just 19th in offensive rating (101.8) but are sixth in defensive rating (98.5). The play at the league’s 20th fastest pace (90.7).

Tip-off from the Amway Center is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST. The game will be shown locally by FS Florida and nationally by ESPN.

As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and FM 96.5  and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.

The officials for tonight’s game are Marc Davis, Kane Fitzgerald and Josh Tiven.

The Line: Orlando – 4.5 (181.5u)


Los Angeles Lakers

Andrew Bynum
Pau Gasol
Matt Barnes
Kobe Bryant
Derek Fisher

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Ryan Anderson
Jason Richardson
J.J. Redick
Jameer Nelson

*Hedo Turkoglu (back spasms) has been ruled out of the game.

**Jason Richardson (bone bruise) will be a game-time decision. If he can’t go, J.J. Redick will again start in his place.

Update: Richardson and Redick will both start.

This is an NBA finals rematch, a battle between the best front court of the last few years and the league’s best center and a game that features an all-time great in Kobe Bryant. However, the biggest story line is going to surround Dwight Howard and his apparent desire to play for the Lakers (and the Nets, Mavericks, Clippers(maybe), etc…).

The Magic finally got a day off while the Lakers are fresh off a beat down courtesy of the Heat.

On the court, we’ve got a very interesting matchup.

Los Angeles, much like Orlando’s last opponent, San Antonio, has really struggled away from home. They’re just 1-5 on the road. To be fair, their road schedule has featured games against Denver, Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami.

Dwight Howard will be going up against Andrew Bynum, who looks like he is finally becoming the second best big man in the league. Bynum is averaging 16.3 points and 13.8 rebounds per game this season.

Pau Gasol is averaging 16.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game and is shooting 52.9% from the field and is still a fantastic offensive player because of his ability to knock down jump shots and pass out of the post. Gasol will provide another big challenge for Ryan Anderson and Glen Davis.

Clearly, the Magic have no one to defend Kobe Bryant, but with Howard in the middle, they can force Bryant to sit on the perimeter and take low quality shots, which he’s prone to do. Bryant is averaging 30.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. However, his effective field goal percentage is just 47.6%, the third-lowest number of his career and lowest since the 2003-04 season.

If Jameer Nelson, who shot 2-of-16 from the field in Wednesday’s loss to the Spurs, can’t get going against the Lakers’ current point guard duo of 37 year-old Derek Fisher and rookie Darius Morris, he may never get it going. Nelson has had some big games against the Lakers over his career, but struggled last year, averaging just 9.5 points in two games between the clubs last season.

Former Magic forward Matt Barnes will be back in Orlando. Barnes is averaging 8.1 points per game this season, the fourth-highest average on the team.

Lakers Resources:

ESPN Los Angeles
Forum Blue & Gold
Inside the Lakers
Laker Nation
Lake Show Life
Los Angeles Times
The Orange County Register
The Purple & Gold Blog
Silver Screen & Roll
With Malice

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)