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The (10-6) Los Angeles Lakers continue their two-game road trip seeking their second road win of the season in the city best known for Walt Disney World resort, founded by the Walt Disney Company in 1971, Orlando, to face the (10-4) Magic. Central Florida is home to Universal Orlando, including Universal City Walk, attracts 51 million tourists a year and is home to the second best team in the NBA’s Southeast Division.

The Lakers are looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Heat, the ugliest loss of the season. Miami took over in the second quarter outscoring the Lakers 27-17 and never looked back.

The surprising takeaway from the loss was Kobe Bryant playing 41 minutes in the first of back-to-back games, the Lakers in ability to defend the perimeter, poor shooting from behind the arc and not being able to limit their opponents’ points off turnovers.

Tonight’s matchup could pit Orlando & L.A.’s center of present against potentially their center of the future. The media will sell tonight’s game as Andrew Bynum vs. Dwight Howard, but the reality is that tonight’s battle at the Amway Center pits the Lakers against the Magic. All of us will have a definitive answer to Dwight Howard’s trade demands by March 15, 2012 the trade deadline.

The Lakers are playing badly on the road, consequently the Magic are playing well at home. The Lakers are lacking rhythm and their offense is still a work in progress. Injuries and lack of execution have played a huge role. The Lakers need to start bringing it on the road and playing at a higher energy level with much more intensity. The Lakers are a Pau Gasol three-point shot away from being winless on the road this season. The Lakers need to get off to a fast start as opposed to digging themselves a deep hole that is very difficult to come back from.

The Lakers have to play solid against the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, get back in transition and rotate out to open shooters and extend the defense out to the three-point line. Dwight Howard presents several challenges the Lakers have to play him with more one-on-one coverage as much as possible. If the Lakers can make Howard a scorer and not allow the Magic shooters to get off it could make for a closer game.

Against the Orlando Magic, the Lakers big players have to run with Dwight Howard. Howard does an excellent job of running the floor and attacking the basket. The task of slowing him down will initially fall on Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol, but it will have to be a team effort.

The Lakers need to run their offense from the inside out and feed Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol in the painted area. Tonight could be an opportunity for the Lakers to run their offense through Andrew Bynum. Bynum doesn’t necessarily have to match Dwight Howard’s scoring, but he does need to remain aggressive and post a double-double while blocking two shots nightly!

The Lakers are receiving 20 points from their bench and that number needs to increase. A big part of the problem is the fact that the benches, as constructed, have not been healthy all season. The reserves are going to get some good looks and will have to knock down shots.

Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Barnes, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Magic:
J. Nelson, J. Redick, Q. Richardson, R. Anderson, D. Howard   

Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
  • Orlando: FS Florida & Sun Sports (David Steele & Matt Guokas)

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Orlando: AM 580 WDBO (Dennis Newman & Richie Adubato)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Derrick Caracter (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Left Knee) Out
  • Kobe  Bryant (Torn Lunotriquetral Ligament, Right Wrist) Probable
  • Pau Gasol (Sprained Right Shoulder) Probable
  • Steve Blake (Costochaondral Fracture) Out
  • Josh McRoberts (Sprained Big Toe) Probable

      Magic:

  • Jason Richardson (Knee) Day-to-Day
  • Hedo Turkoglu (Back Spasms) Day-to-Day