The Orlando Magic wrap up their West Coast trip against the Los Angeles Lakers as they hope to salvage a win and continue growing from their last two games.
Orlando Magic (5-22) at Los Angeles Lakers (14-13)
Time/TV: 9:30 p.m./Bally Sports Florida
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Line via WynnBet: Lakers by 10.5
Tickets: $54-$577 on StubHub
2022 Season Series: Tonight in Los Angeles; Jan. 21 in Orlando
|Pace||Off. Rtg.||Def. Rtg.||eFG%||O.Reb.%||TO%||FTR|
|Los Angeles Lakers||101.2||107.2||108.0||53.1||26.6||15.5||23.8|
The Orlando Magic spoke after Saturday’s game about the team’s need to focus on the little victories and the team’s progression through the course of the season. They are not necessarily focused on their wins and losses and more on how they continue to get better. Saturday, in that sense, was a step in the right direction as the Magic got down to the wire with a chance to win.
Of course, the next step in that process should be finding ways to win games. That is ultimately how teams will get judged and the ultimate goal for any season. And Orlando has had precious few wins — and no consecutive wins yet this season.
The Los Angeles Lakers are at something of a crossroads. They are exchanging wins and their defense has not been the usually strong outfit it has been under Frank Vogel. Everything is under question for the Lakers and nobody is ever quite sure which Lakers team they will get. They still have LeBron James though and that always gives the team a chance to win.
Los Angeles Lakers
3 Keys To Watch
The Orlando Magic’s offense has been . . . not good.
The team ranks 28th in the league in offensive rating (102.7 points per 100 possessions). It has long been the bugaboo for the team. Orlando simply does not score enough. And the team struggles to move the ball.
So the question is: How does the team get better? Is it even getting better?
The Magic have scored 100 points in four of their last five games — a small, but important feat for this team after scoring fewer than 100 points in the previous five games (all with Cole Anthony out). The Magic have a 111.5 offensive rating in the last five games.
That is a significant improvement. And it is a small sample — and the team’s defense remains a bigger concern and far more inconsistent considering the team’s emphasis on the defensive end — but it is an improvement nonetheless. Something to keep an eye on.
When the Orlando Magic hired Frank Vogel back in 2016, he brought with him the promise of adding to the team’s defense and making the group a defensive outfit. The Magic reshaped the roster to that tune in adding Serge Ibaka. It backfired spectacularly and the franchise had to reset itself with new management. Vogel never really had a chance.
When he arrived to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019, he delivered that defensive promise. The Lakers were one of the top defensive teams in the league on their way to the 2020 title in the Bubble. And even last year with Los Angeles struggling with injury, the team finished first in the league in defensive rating.
That has not been the case this year. The Lakers are 12th in the league.
That drop with the team’s struggling offense — relying heavily on LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook with little shooting or ball movement around them — has hurt the Lakers. They are essentially a .500 team now.
The Orlando Magic were able to crack the LA Clippers’ defense on Saturday. But that was without Paul George.
Anthony Davis is listed as QUESTIONABLE for Sunday’s game. That takes away a major defensive and offensive weapon if he misses the game. Orlando’s offense is in a better groove and that gives the team a chance.
Cole Anthony is often very hard on himself. After games, even when Anthony has scored a ton of points, he will point to something he needed to do better. Nothing is ever enough for him — and that is a very good thing.
The big thing Anthony will often point out is his contributions on the glass.
Anthony is averaging 6.1 rebounds per game, trailing only Wendell Carter and Mo Bamba on the team. His 8.5-percent rebound rate is incredibly strong for a guard. That is ninth among players listed as guards by NBA.com. And plenty of people are taking notice of his rebounding.
Here comes the interesting split. In the Magic’s five wins, Anthony averages 9.2 rebounds per game. In their losses, he averages 5.2 rebounds per game. Rebounding is a sign of Anthony’s activity. And as he discovers how to expand his game beyond his scoring, rebounding is one way for him to keep growing.