The Orlando Magic close their big West Coast road trip looking to break even with a Los Angeles sweep that could keep their slimming postseason hopes alive.
Orlando Magic (29-42) at Los Angeles Lakers (34-37)
Time/TV: 9:30 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
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Line: Lakers by 6.5
Tickets: $71-$5,023 on StubHub
Season Series: Lakers 129, Magic 110 in Orlando on Dec. 27; Tonight in Los Angeles
|Pace||Off. Rtg.||Def. Rtg.||eFG%||O.Reb.%||TO%||FTR|
|Los Angeles Lakers||102.1||113.1||113.3||53.8||26.7||13.7||29.4|
The Orlando Magic have to feel some relief to get a win on this road trip after they struggled recently and especially in the first two games. Their coach, Jamahl Mosley, was certainly happy to see the team’s defense make a strong comeback, holding the LA Clippers under 110 points. But the trick is always to do it again.
The Magic at least have the easiest (or hardest depending on a team’s late-night predilections) back-to-back in the league to rest up and get ready. The Los Angeles double is very difficult for teams to handle for a number of reasons — the quality of the opponent most of all. But this game will be a challenge.
The Los Angeles Lakers are good at all the things the Orlando Magic often struggle with. They turn turnovers into transition opportunities and they get to the line. The Magic will have to clean up their turnovers especially to give themselves a chance to win.
This team has thrived before with their backs against the wall. Even though the team has not had a two-game win streak since early February.
3 Keys To Watch
Magic’s historic offensive month
The Orlando Magic’s PR account shared a fun stat nugget this morning. The Magic are averaging 118.4 points per game this month. If the Magic are able to finish the month at that mark, they will have the highest-scoring month in Magic history, besting the previous high of 116.8 set in November 1994.
Raw numbers can be tricky. Three-point shooting is certainly more in vogue now than it was in the 1995 season. They also brought the 3-point line in closer during the 1995 and 1996 seasons, helping inflate numbers during that time too. The 1995 Magic were also the most efficient offense in NBA history at that time — but that efficiency would be bottom 10 in the league today.
So this is still some crazy company for the Magic to keep.
The reality is the Magic are still looking to improve their offense. As strong as that raw number looks, the Magic are 21st in the league with a 114.6 offensive rating in March so far.
That is not to take anything away from the Magic’s scoring. They are scoring a whole lot more. The offense has greatly improved and the Magic have put in some strong performances that deserved wins if not for better defense.
The back-to-back problem
Speaking of the defense, that will be the real test for the Orlando Magic in this game against the Los Angeles Lakers. Coach Jamahl Mosley was most pleased and extolling the team’s defense in their win over the LA Clippers, the first time they held an opponent under 110 points in 10 games (the win over the New Orleans Pelicans was the last time).
Their defensive problems usually come out the most in back-to-backs. The Magic have a 123.0 defensive rating when playing on zero days’ rest. The Magic are just 1-10 on the second night of back-to-backs. Those are the fewest wins in the league.
This back-to-back is unique because the Magic did not have to travel and played a 12 p.m. local time game the day before. Orlando will have more than 24 hours to get rested and get right for the game. But this is one the team really needs to get to hang around the postseason chase. The Magic have just one more back-to-back remaining after this one.
The Western Conference chase
The Orlando Magic are in their own postseason chase as they try to stay in the race and make a run in the Eastern Conference. The Los Angeles Lakers are in the middle of the mess that is the Western Conference postseason chase.
The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves one-half game back of the Utah Jazz for the final postseason spot after the Jazz defeated the Boston Celtics last night. Of course, the Los Angeles Lakers are also two games behind the sixth-seed Dallas Mavericks. So a lot changes every night in the NBA’s Western Conference.
The Lakers know this is a must-win right now against a team struggling like the Magic are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.