On Tap: The Orlando Magic

Kurt —  February 28, 2006

Record: 20-35 (21-34 Pythagorean), 11th seed in the East
Record last 10 games: 1-9
Offensive Rating: 105.9 (19th in the league)
Defensive Rating: 109.4 (25th in the league)

Reaching Goals: Back on Feb. 9, I wrote that the Lakers had one of the softer parts of their schedule coming up for the next 10 games and this was the chance to solidify that playoff position and really start to make a run to the post season. I said they should go 7-3.

Their record so far, 3-4. Left is Orlando tonight, at Portland and at Golden State.

Laker news: Von Wafer has been sent down to Fort Worth of the D-League. This is good, he needs the playing time if he’s going to become and NBA level-player, and he’s not getting it up with the big club (nor should he).

I hope he works out, but it still leaves the question: What is it with Mitch K. and skinny shooting guards who don’t play defense? We get one every draft, it seems.

The Magic coming in: Orlando should be a good team — in 2008. They aren’t right now. They do have the best sophomore in the league in Dwight Howard, but he is not old enough to legally order a Jack and Coke, let alone carry this team.

After the big trade, they don’t have Stevie Franchise in the backcourt as a threat, but that was a smart trade for two reasons: 1) Orlando will have a lot of cap space after next season to build with; 2) Jameer Nelson is a good young point guard (a PER of 18.7, compared to say Smush at 13.0, where the league average is 15) and he should be given the keys to the car so he can learn.

Last time these two hooked up the Lakers won while Chris Mihm was 8 of 9 from the floor and looked like an All-Star. It helped that Howard twisted his ankle two minutes in and never returned to the floor, so Mihm was covered by Tony Battie (who is really a four). This time around he may also be covered by Darko Milicic, who has been a nice +4.5 (per 48 minutes) since coming to Florida. Watch out for Carlos Arroyo, who has torn it up since coming to town — shooting 57.8% (eFG%) and has a PER of 25.7 so far.

Keys to a Laker win: The Magic are 25th in the league in defensive efficiency, so the Lakers should be able to score plenty. The Magic are weakest defending the point and the four, so again this is a game Odom, Cook and Smush should back Kobe up with big games.

But scoring was really never the question. Orlando is 19th in the league in offense, which means the Lakers should — should — be able to keep them in check and win handily. The Lakers should get a little fat this Tuesday.

The problem is, when they win handily they seem to take the next game off. Still, I think we could all use an easy win before a couple of road games.