Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The (38-16) Los Angeles Lakers are in Florida today to face the (34-21) Orlando Magic. The Lakers are 4-0 on their Grammy road trip and the recurring theme has been locking teams up defensively. Their defense has not allowed 100 points to an opponent, so far, on the road.

Several people outside of the Lakers Nation have openly questioned if this team could make a fourth straight appearance in the NBA Finals. There has been a lot of talk about something not being right with them. The current road trip is serving notice to all of the naysayers, that the defending champions are prepared to defend their crown.

The Lakers are STILL the champions and teams need to adjust to them and not the other way around.

The Purple and Gold road show has landed in Orlando. The Lakers continue their business trip with a matinee against the Magic. The Lakers have displayed the defense, energy, effort and high activity level that the we are accustomed to seeing.

The Lakers are displaying excellent ball movement, player movement, they’re executing offensively, getting the ball to their big players, and said players are responding.

The Magic, like every NBA team, have shortcomings. They have questions that are in need of answers. There are two questions for the Orlando Magic. Are Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy on the rocks? Who will guard Kobe Bryant?

The Magic have allowed a combined 47 points to the likes of Willie Green and Lou Williams. They realize that they are stepping up in weight class dealing with The Black Mamba. The trio of Jason Richardson, J.J. Redick and Quentin Richardson will all have their hands full.

The Magic are 3-3 in their last six games. They lost nine consecutive times to a team with a winning record. That number will rise to double-digits.

The Lakers need to play Dwight Howard one-on-one as much as possible. If the Lakers can make Howard a scorer and not allow the Magic to shoot three pointers, today’s game will be an easy victory.

Against the 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 and Pau Gasol, but it will have to be a team effort.

The Magic run several screen and roll plays. The Lakers have to communicate on defense to shut said plays down. They need to stop the dribble penetration of Jameer Nelson, who initiates a lot of the screen and roll plays. Nelson is more of a shooter than a player who will attack the basket.

The Lakers need to get back in transition to stop the Magic from scoring easy baskets. They need to continue to play with consistency and not allow open shots.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, L. Odom and P. Gasol
Magic:
J. Nelson, J. Richardson, H. Turkoglu, R. Anderson, D. Howard

Tip-off: 12:30 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: ABC
  • Orlando: ABC

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
  • Orlando: Newstalk AM 580 WDBO (Dennis Newman & Richie Adubato)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Matt Barnes (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Right Knee) Out
  • Theo Ratliff (Left Knee Surgery) Out
  • Devin Ebanks (Sore Knee) Questionable

Magic:

  • PF Brandon Bass (Sprained Left Ankle) Doubtful
  • C Daniel Orton (Left Knee Arthroscopic Surgery) Out
  • lakers2000

    Let’s get that win! Go Lakers!!!!!

    • FAKERS SUCK!!!

      FAKERS just lost miserably…..

    • FAKERS SUCK!!!

      What kind of excuses you fakers fan bring this time…
      Oh..it is not a playoff game, yet?
      Right?
      You can not even beat struggling Magic…

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  • LakerMarc

    I called it Lakers cant seem to win in Orlando and here we go with another loss…. granted an excellent road trip so far…. but this win would have really shown me something. Disappointing.

  • Lakers can’t shoot

    Is it just me, or does someone else think Lakers can’t shoot? I keep hearing blind excuses that are not going to help the team’s problems vanish. Here are some complaints I have:

    - Gasol and Bynum are overrated in the post. Gasol takes wild shots against other big men of his size or caliber. Watch closely when Bynum and Gasol play Ilgauskas, Howard, Shaq, Chandler, Perkins, Garnett, etc. The commentators and many fans keep mentioning that the twin towers get quality shots, but I couldn’t disagree more. The only time when that is true is when they play 6’10 centers or shorter. Of course, they get good looks against 6’6 Chuck Hayes.

    - Lakers have not been a great shooting team for a while now. I have always felt that, when they lose, their shooting was to be blamed other than defense and choking in the post. Seriously, when things get tight in big games, Lakers just simply can’t shoot.

    - There’s something suspicious about Bynum’s knees. Recall he had a bruised knee some games ago. Today with the Magic, he hurt his knee again. It is only a matter time before he lands on another player’s foot and injures one of his knees if they are indeed “glass.”

    - Another weakness is the team’s shot selection and quality. Am I the only one who notices that Lakers consistently get themselves tougher shots than every team they play? They give up layups, open 3′s, open long 2′s, and easy shots in the paint. Then they go back on offense and either they work themselves to death in the Triangle or have Kobe shoot a contested fade-away from 23 feet after holding the ball for himself – and stalling the offense like Ron Artest – for around 5 seconds.

    To summarize it, they can only go so far when they choose to retain all of these deficiencies. Something has to give. Does anyone else notice what I’ve been seeing for at least this season? I’m tired of the compromises and excuses.

    • Lakers can’t shoot

      One more thing….

      Lakers big guys miss way too many close shots inside. Again, Pau takes wild shots. Bynum misses tons of baby hooks each game. These guys don’t show up against dominant, physical, and taller big men of the league.

      • LakerMarc

        Strange how they can handle Amar’e but not Howard

      • ilikebasketball

        you are full of it.

        we are just tired.

        no one on the team could shoot.

        no one was there today.

        just a lot of travelling.

        you are taking this loss waaay too far.

        but i do feel Artest is playing beyong horrible this season.
        and blake has brought nothing to the team.

        • Lakers can’t shoot

          One moment you disagreed, the next you were fighting your own initial position. Self-Contradiction?

        • FAKERS SUCK!!!

          Stop bringing nonsense fakers are just tired.
          Everybody is tired and injured now in the middle of the season.
          You just got your axx kicked miserably.
          And it will happen a lot in playoffs.
          Oh, it is going to be a short playoffs for you, fakers!!!!
          Hhahahahahahha

    • Cliff

      I completely agree with you. 39% from the field and don’t forget to mention free throws, a dismal 46.7%. Every other team seems to have at least a point guard that can actually shoot or at least penetrate. Fisher’s shooting has been awful this season at 37%, Blake at 37% and Brown at 44%. That puts a lot of pressure on Kobe and the bigs. I hope that come playoff time they will come around but if not it will be our undoing.

    • FAKERS SUCK!!!

      I totally agree with you, man!!!!!!
      That is what I have been telling people here….

  • CountBogdan

    Looks like Bynum racked up yet another knee injury early In the 4th. This is getting ridiculous! He’ll probably miss at least another 5 or 10 games. Also, that had to be one of the worst shooting performances I’ve seen.

    • lakersallthewayy

      no phil said that andrew just banged them up but he’s gonna be starting tomorrow

  • LAkers for real

    blah blah blah! stop making lots of excuses it only shows u r a bandwagoner..create your own team or go to mars! i love the lakers and the way they are..

    • lakers for real

      thats a reply to lakers cant shoot

      • Lakers can’t shoot

        Meh….. I’m not making excuses. I’m listing concerns that even the team needs to address. It’s called being realistic and not fan who lives in a delusion where he thinks the Lakers are invincible. I love the team, but I’m not crazy enough to think of them as unbeatable.

        BTW, I’m not a bandwagoner. Better to be realistic than blind to the weaknesses that the team you love has.

        • lakers for real

          oh come on!stay in the light sir..u r so pissimistic..when we won the trophy last year were u able to list down our strong ponts? where were you btw? come on! stay in the light..

          • lakers for real

            i am not blinded by the truth its just that i believe in this team more than you! go to mars.

          • FAKERS SUCK!!!

            You better go to mars, moron.
            You keep telling people that you won champion last year…
            This year is not same as the last year…
            That is your problem….not realizing the difference from the last year…

          • Big Baby can barely dunk

            lakers for real is quite a troll. What a line, lol, “Go to Mars.” So irrelevant.

    • FAKERS SUCK!!!

      You pathetic loser fakers fan….
      Stop ignoring the situation…
      You should realize how vulnerable the fakers are now and will be in playoffs.
      You just don’t want to accept the fact that a little snake is fast-regressing and tired…can not do it alone with those pathetic bench and starters.
      Open your eyes~~~~!!!!

    • Lakers can’t shoot

      Believing something doesn’t make it true. Being realistic with the facts and intangible truths is.
      - Artest and Fisher shoot below 40%.
      - Artest is having career low numbers.
      - Blake’s numbers declined from his previous years in Portland.
      - Bynum keeps getting hurt.
      - Brown’s numbers started hot, but have dipped the past few months.

      Pal, belief in your team is nothing when it can’t save the team from misery.

  • Likwidsage

    imo, it’s just one of those nights. No shots falling + Dwight having a monster game. In a 7 game series, I wouldn’t be worried much.

    • lakers2000

      This.

    • ilikebasketball

      also…its the same with phx, when their three pointers are falling from every angle, there’s not much you can do.

      but that strategy is never long term.

      our tiredness plus their threes falling(though we should defend the 3 better) made us lose.

      it sucks to lose against another big team.
      but not heartbreaking

    • Paul “The Lie” Pierce

      So it’s just a coincidence that these poorly played games occur when Lakers play the elite teams? When they lose to those teams, “it’s just one of those nights.” When they beat an average or crappy team, which is what they’re supposed to do, it’s like “Oh! Look! We’re getting it together again! Lakers are so gonna steamroll over everyone!”

      • FAKERS SUCK!!!

        My vote to you~!!!!!

    • Nick

      yA, CONSIDERING THEY ARE THE 5TH OR 6TH BEST TEAM IN THE EAST U SHOULDN’T BE TOO WORRIED. i wouldn’t be too worried facing the Hornets or Portland in a 7 game series either. In all seriousness though, i am worried that the lakers bench is going to prevent them from making the Finals. San Antonio and Dallas are just so deep, and all these teams have added size to combat LA’s old strength that they owned over everyone. If they add to their bench then they can play us in June, but Brown and Odom and Barnes just ain’t enough. Blake is putrid and barnes and brown are very very hit or miss. They need to get someone who gets bought out or make a trade… SOON, As much as i hate the lakers i want round 3

      • Nick

        My twin is so cute, I just want to pinch his cheeks.

  • UNBREAKABLE

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  • Nate Mcmillian

    Pau Gasoft can not box out and hold position against a 4,11 80 year old Grandma. Pau allowing the lobs at the basket is unacceptable the guy is 7 feet look down between your legs Pau and grow some balls. I do not know who the impostor was in the number 24 Jersey cause that was not Kobe. Fisher, Artest and Blake need to play for the d-league none of those guys could through a beach ball into the ocean. Letting people shoot seems to be the mentality even if he is a known shooter or has been hot the whole game they just let shooters shoot. You have to wonder if thats drawn up for them to do that is that Phil’s defensive system or is it the teams simple breakdown defensively? Ron Adobe Artest, Steve Flake, and Dick Fisher I am sick of all these idiots its not like they have hard jobs they get wide open shots and they can not execute.

    • Odom the player

      Hey Nate have you ever notice that Kobe gets in these stupid moods where he just won’t shoot the ball? I really would like to know why he plays like that at times. I think the Lakers should just flat out cut Dick Fisher, and Gasol is Gasoft , and he can’t hold his ground against any physical player. Artest just sucks. this guy can’t make a shot if his life depended on it. I don’t know if this is Phil ( im not gonna coach system) or if these players just don’t care. frustrating as hell.

      • Nate Mcmillian

        Odom the player you are right no the money my friend I do not know what Kobe’s deal is. I know this team has no heart at all they are not in the game mentally. Your damn right about Pau I am 6,0 190 and I could play more physical defense on Howard than Pau Gasoft did tonight. Like I said Ron Adobe Artest Dick fisher and Steve Flake. Also Tectash to answer your question yes I am Smush Walton.

  • tectash

    Hey Nate are you Smush Walton because if you are we miss you man.

  • Nick

    Hahaha check out http://redsarmy.com/home/
    I’m posting gay ass comments there too!