The Orlando Magic will be hosting the Los Angeles Lakers tonight at Amway Center. The Magic come in having lost 13 of their last 14 games and currently sit at a record of 8-38 which is the worse in the NBA. The Lakers have struggled as of late too, having lost four of their last five games amid much controversy surrounding the team from media reports. They currently sit at a record of 22-23, sitting as the eighth seed in the strong western conference standings. In their last game against the Indiana Pacers, the Lakers melted down at the end of the game, forcing head coach Frank Vogel to bench guard Russell Westbrook for the final minutes of the game. This came at a particularly bad time for the team, as rumors have swirled about the job status of Vogel recently. The Lakers will look to rebound and get their record back to .500 against the Magic. If they lose this game, Vogel may very well be fired, as this would give them two bad back-to-back losses.
For the Magic, they need to stop the bleeding and if the can take down Los Angeles at home, it would go a long way for this teams confidence. Center Mo Bamba scored 32 points last game in their loss at the Philadelphia 76ers and will look to continue his scoring output against the Lakers, who often play small ball lineups. Both teams really need a win in this game to stop their recent skids and gain some momentum going forward. The Lakers previously took on the Magic earlier this season and came out with a 106-94 victory in the matchup out in Los Angeles.
How the Lakers can win: For the Lakers to win this game, they will need to rely on the veteran experience in the locker room to tune out the outside noise going on around them. The biggest question is how Russell Westbrook will bounce back from being benched at the game of last game. He has been on a poor outburst of late and the Lakers will need their high-priced player to step up. Los Angeles is strong offensively, scoring on average 111.7 points per game. They are creating 24.3 assists per game and 15.0 fast break points per game as they feed off easy transition points. If the Lakers can cause the Magic to turn the ball over, they will be in good shape to win this game.
Without forward Anthony Davis, the Lakers have been relying on smaller lineups with LeBron James taking on the burden of playing center. It has resulted in better on-court play, but it has also left them exposed at times while trying to defend the rim. The Lakers defense will need to be strong against a youthful Magic team that can score the ball. LeBron James will get his numbers and show up but for this Lakers team to win, they will need their other role players to step up and produce big games.
How the Magic can win: If the Orlando Magic are going to win this game, they will need to attack the basket and win the rebounding game. The Lakers have struggled this season with rebounding and recently have been forced to play more small ball lineups due to their roster. Mo Bamba should look to attack the basket in this game and make himself a force to be reckon with. Another player the Magic have is Cole Anthony, who has been one of the bright spots for Orlando during this season. He will need to be a key part of the gameplan if Orlando has any hope of winning this game. While looking at the Lakers poor defensive lapses over the course of the season, he likely will have a number of opportunities to get his rhythm going.
Additionally, the Magic are in the top ten of the NBA in free throw accuracy at 77.8 percent and Los Angeles tends to foul often, which could play into the strength of Orlando. The Magic also need to win the turnover battle because allowing the Lakers to get easy points in transition will let Los Angeles off the hook defensively. Los Angeles thrives off transition points so making sure to win both the rebounding and turnover battle gives Orlando a chance to win this game
The Spread Via FanDuel:
Lakers ML -210
Final Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers 125 Orlando Magic 112
-Both teams come in struggling but the Lakers at least still sit in the playoff picture in their respective conference. Benching Westbrook may show the rest of the team that Vogel will do whatever is best and could cause a nice response. Orlando is only 2-16 at home this season and have had trouble getting anything going lately. Give me the Lakers to prevail in this road contest.