Lakers and Magic: Preview & Chat

Jeff Skibiski —  February 13, 2011

Records: Lakers 38-16 (2nd in West), Magic 34-21 (5th in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.4 (2nd in NBA), Magic 108.0 (11th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.8 (10th in NBA), Magic 102.3 (3rd in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Magic: Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Brandon Bass, Dwight Howard
Injuries: Lakers: Matt Barnes & Theo Ratliff (out); Magic: Brandon Bass (questionable – UPDATE: Bass expected to make surprise return today)

The Lakers Coming in: Every year when the NBA releases the schedule for the upcoming season, one of the first things I look to is the annual Grammy trip — so often a tipping point over the past decade. The hope is that the extended time away from STAPLES will unify the team and redirect their focus for the stretch run, which is exactly what has happened through the first four games of the seven-game trip. Kobe looks as spry as ever as evidenced by back-to-back strong performances against Boston and New York on Friday. Add a resurgent effort on the defensive end and the Lakers are finally starting to resemble the team that has won back-to-back titles.

The Magic Coming in: Orlando entered the season with high hopes of not only retaining, but topping its status as one of the league’s elite teams. At 34-21, it’s safe to say that they aren’t there yet and may never be even after changing the dynamic of their roster with a December blockbuster that essentially shipped out an unproductive Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turoglu and Jason Richardson. Aside from an early 9-0 winning streak with the new pieces, the Magic have been mired in an extended 9-9 (0-8 against teams with winning records) funk that’s left them 18-11 overall since the trade and potentially looking forward to starting the postseason on the road. Still, they remain a threat, if not somewhat of an enigma simply because of the sheer talent (see: Dwight Howard) and versatility they can throw on the floor at any given time.

Magic Blogs: Check out Magic Basketball for the latest info on Superman and Co. Orlando Pinstriped Post also does great work.

Keys to game: If the past four games are any indication, the Lakers are in full attack mode right now. Orlando is always a tough place to play and that was before they moved into their shiny new arena this season. I fully expect the Magic to come out aggressive, looking for a signature victory — their third in a row at home against L.A. — in an otherwise disappointing season.

Although the Magic have shuffled some pieces around, the basic ebb and flow of their offense remains the same — Superman down low, surrounded by a surplus of shooters on the perimeter. It’s a recipe that’s worked for the Magic for most of the past three seasons, but also one that the Lakers have pretty much solved by now. The reason why is simple: against most teams, Howard is used to having free rein around the hoop, but that’s not so when playing against L.A.’s vaunted front line. With Bynum, Gasol and Odom, the Lakers have the personnel to make Dwight work on both ends of the court. If you remove him from the equation — whether systematically or via foul trouble — the Magic are woefully small inside and still lack a reliable, go-to second scoring option. If the Lakers stick to their game plan and run an inside-out offense through their bigs, Orlando simply won’t be able to catch up. As they’ve seen in past losses to them, though, they’ll try their best to turn today’s game into a shooting match for which L.A. is ill-equipped.

Speaking of big men, my eyes will be on Bynum today, who always seems to get up for games against his young center counterpart in Orlando. Andrew didn’t play particularly well against the Magic last season, though, as L.A. and Orlando each defended their home court. Howard didn’t exactly go off either, averaging 20 points and 14 rebounds in two games against the Lakers. Even if Dwight is able to mitigate Bynum’s contributions, they have absolutely no answer for Pau, so the Lakers would be wise to hit up the Spaniard early and often. The same goes for Kobe against the Magic’s more offensive minded guards in Richardson, Redick and whomever else Orlando tries to throw at him. The key for #24 is to resist the urge to chuck up volume shots against the Magic, which is something he’s fallen prey to in past matchups against Orlando.

Jameer Nelson has been a thorn in the Lakers’ sides for several years now thanks to his ability to beat Derek Fisher and the like off the dribble and penetrate deep into the lane for one of his signature floaters or dishes to Dwight. The Magic offense undoubtedly got more athletic with the additions of J-Rich and Arenas, but their core philosophy is still predicated on their ability to feed their shooters. As the key cog in that cycle, I expect limiting Nelson to be at or near the top of the Lakers’ priority list in today’s game. Turkoglu’s name should also make that list as his passing ability has caused all kinds of matchup problems for the Lakers over the years even as the name on the front of his jersey has changed. J.J. Redick’s emergence this season as a consistent bona fide threat from beyond the arc has also added to the Magic’s dangerous shooting arsenal.

I’m no doubt guilty of looking ahead here, but if the Lakers can top the Magic today, they appear well-positioned for an improbable 7-0 road trip so long as they can knock off an always troublesome Bobcats squad and a reeling Cavs team who just celebrated the end of their 26-game losing streak. First thing’s first, though — continuing to play with improved offensive execution and continuity on defense.

Where you can watch: 12:30 p.m. PST start time on ABC. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710 AM.

Jeff Skibiski


114 responses to Lakers and Magic: Preview & Chat

  1. 1) This one is for Warren

    2) “Turkoglu’s name should also make that lost” — shouldn’t that be list, not lost?

  2. Watching the Boston Miami game I’ll say what I did at the beginning of the season. I think Miami will be good in the regular season, but struggle against a team like Boston in the playoffs where game planning plays more of a role.
    Miami’s success is based more on individual brilliance than on cohesive team work.

  3. 2)
    There is a direct correlation between individual brilliance and team succsess. That’s why the Lakers went from losing in the first round with Kwame, Smoosh, and Luke to winning NBA championships with Gasol, Bynum, and Artest.

  4. Vor: exactly, as schemes come into play and the chess match undergoes, we will still see Miami playing checkers. Albeit, a terrific brand of checkers, but checkers nonetheless. I think a chess player always beat a checkers player, even if the checkers player gets “kinged”.. Their only saving grace will be the refs that will make 8-10 bailout calls per game for them..

  5. Aaron, obviously, you have to have talent to win. The Lakers have as much talent as anyone in the league, but the only way they are going to win the chip is playing as a team on both sides of the ball and they know it. I do not think Miami knows how to play effective team ball. Their talent is such that they will beat most teams in the league. But against elite teams in a seven game series, I think it will be a different story -imo. Only the playoffs will tell.

  6. The team with the greatest sum of “individual brilliance” often doesn’t win.

  7. 5)
    Yes… Time does tell. I remember when a certain big 3 got assembled in Boston. Many people said you can’t just put three stars together and win a championship right away. Now since they won one their first try… Looking back we said they played as a team. Every team plays as a team… Especially teams with great players that demand double teams thus creating easy ball movement.

    I hate being the one singing the praises of Miami because they are the team I am most afraid of. But I’m put into this position because most everyone pretends they aren’t the favorites. The guys with the money on the line in Vegas have the Heat as the team most likely to win the title… And it’s surprising not everyone agrees. It’s like pretending Lebron isn’t the MVP again this year. Just because we don’t admit it, doesn’t mean its less true. If every team is healthy the Heat will win it all… That’s why I pray every night that Lebron turns an ankle before the Finals against the Lakers.

  8. Also, if Pat Riley was on their bench, I’d have more respect for their chances. It’s not a diss at Spoesltra, but Riley is an all-time great. He’d certainly help them work together and play better than otherwise in the playoffs.

  9. This is hilarious. Rondo is defending James because James has no post game. HILARIOUS.

  10. Zephid
    If that was true then they wouldn’t be doubling him every time he touched the ball in the post.

  11. Zephid – Agreed! can you imagine what would happen if Rondo tried to guard Kobe? Lebron is a great athlete – we all know that. Best player in the game? Please…

  12. Adam, are you going to say the same thing next year when shaw is coaching the lakers and phil is gone? Spolstra and shaw are both portages to “all time greats”

  13. 10, yea, because James totally doesn’t lose his dribble and have to pass the ball out to Mario Chalmers which forces a 24 second violation. Which totally isn’t the Celtics design. Completely agreed.

    Just because you’re totally blinded by your Lebron love doesn’t mean you have to distort the facts. James is attempting to back down Rondo and getting nowhere.

  14. Aaron, mark my words: a healthy Boston team beats a healthy Miami team in the playoffs. They look on their way to a 3-0 record so far during the season. They’ve looked like the better team for nearly every minute that has been played between the two. Do you think that in the playoffs, where the game slows down and game to game adjustments are critical, the inexperienced Heat will gain an edge? I don’t think so. Bosh has never been there. Spoelstra has never been there. The TEAM has never been there. Beating Boston in a seven game series is like winning a war. The Heat ain’t ready for war the way Boston is. Ironically enough, they’re probably the more hungry of the two teams. I’m pretty sure Lebron expects David Stern to mail him a ring one of these days.

  15. Jordan, what will be said and which seems pretty plausible is that the Lakers will lose a bit of their edge with Phil gone. More than anything it’s a psychological edge, an heir of confidence that comes with being coached by one of the best to ever do it. The loss will be similar to the potential gain that Miami would receive by having Riley on the bench. Neither situation dooms their teams, but that edge at coaching is the kind of thing that makes a difference when two teams match-up so evenly.

  16. Mike Miller, like a Ron Artest that can’t defend.

    Big Baby looks like you could fit James Jones inside of him.

  17. #16….if Mike Miller’s jumpshot looked like that of a drunken sailor

  18. I love the fact that FB&G has a new good cop – bad cop thing going on:D

    With Darius being the good cop, and yeah well – I think we all know who the bad cop is?;)

  19. Rondo, on LeBron, is hilarious. I think both Boston and LA are teams that can do unorthodox things and get away with it. I hope these two teams meet in the playoffs.

    My money is on LeBron quitting again like last year.

  20. Don’t look now…Aaron’s getting excited. This is def what Phil has talked about, Boston’s inability to close out games. A team w/ so much experience somehow freezes up late. Weird.

  21. Zephid,
    Are you not watching the same game? They doubled Lebron every time in the post except one time because Rondo asked for them to stop doubling. The announcers even mentioned it. On that time they didn’t double Lebron scored and got fouled.

  22. 21, they gave him a soft double, and because Lebron has no post game, he loses his dribble and is forced to pass out. Once again, you are utterly incapable of talking with someone, only at them. Please read my comments before you respond to them.

  23. Adam,
    Boston has a tough time closing out games because they don’t have enough “individual brilliance” to create shots in crunch time.

  24. Zephid,
    What am I missing here? Boston sent a hard constant double at Lebron that Rondo was pissed and asked for them to stop. On that one time Lebron backed down and scored an and one. There is little room for interpretation here.

  25. I think you guys are somewhat exaggerating the Heat’s inability to play as a team. Their defense is up there with the best in the league, which is as good an indicator of ‘team play’ as you’ll find. As for their offense, it is more individualistic but I think the way the game is called now will be to their advantage in the playoffs. (Think Wade 2006 Finals and you’ll get my meaning.)

  26. As much as I despise Boston, I gotta admit that they’re gettin’ a raw deal from the refs n this quarter.

  27. 24, it’s obvious that you don’t understand the difference between a hard double and a soft double. The one time James scored he had to turn and face Rondo and dribble past him. It’s interesting that you insist on claiming that Lebron has a back-to-the-basket post game when there is “little room for interpretation.” Seems as though your bias is able to completely distort facts.

  28. 18 secs left, down 2….what’s the play? Lebron 1-4 set, drive & kick?

  29. That was not a foul, but LeBrick chokes anyway…good times

  30. I’ve seen very few Miami games, but they are always close games. One I saw House took the last shot. this one Miller takes it… I know if Shannon Brown or Blake took our last shot, we’d be pretty confused. Is that a normal thing for them? How can no iso play be ran for wade?

  31. so weird seeing the gold on an opposing floor…

  32. Once again ABC cuts the start of the game to show commercials. Fantastic.

  33. Boston was running on fumes in the last 5 minutes–pierce and rondo d-league shooters in this game and Miami still loses..

    what a difference two weeks makes! two weeks ago lakes looked a mess and boston looked great.

    now we look great

  34. A link without ICE…? got frozen.

  35. Hoping going toe to toe with dwight will help bynums conditioning. It’s clear he could be flat out dominant once he’s able to maintain a consistent activity level on both sides of the ball.

  36. rofl, Ron Artest with his patented off-balance, off-the-dribble, over a contested hand three pointer. I wonder if he realizes that’s a bad shot.

  37. good thing we brought that big kid from new jeresey along.

  38. @34:

    The link name carried over from the last game’s stream, it’s still the right game

  39. ron ron..can u work with someone to help you become a slight offensive threat rather than an offesive liability? is james worthy available to give lessons?
    jamaal wilkes? jimmie mcmillan?

  40. main difference between Rodman and Artest? Rodman knew not to shoot. Phil wishes Ron knew that rule too.

  41. For a guy who gets almost 12 FTAs per game, Howard sure does a lot of whining.

  42. as ron’s body got bigger his athleticism went south.
    however, without him we would have all had a not so happy summer.

    he will come up big when we need him in june…if for no other reason than the law of averages because he has been suck an offensive dud…

    on the bright side, blake’s play has started to shine during this trip

  43. The lakers have been getting the shots they want but too many missed opportunities so far. They missed about 4 or 5 shots at the rim includig that odom foul which could’ve been a 3 point play instead they came up dry. They have to finish those shots around the rim.

    They’ve made a few mistakes defensively but overall they were okay.

  44. On a bit of a dvr delay, but Bynum looks to be the best player on the team so far.

  45. Lamars gotta win sixth man of the year…Got to, I don’t care that he started while Bynum was out, that shouldn’t disqualify him. Also, if anyone finds Steve Blake’s jumpshot, could they please return it to him? Thanks

  46. i really hope blake’s shot starts to fall. he is playing so well…you can tell he’ s lost some confidence but he’s playing an excellent smart point

  47. Shannon can make some really stupid plays sometimes. Seriously.

  48. BEAST block plus rebound on Dwight’s jump hook 😀

  49. Gilbert Arenas is an absolute disaster. Pale shadow of the player he was just over 3 years ago.

  50. shannon is not having a good game…lots of activity and effort but a little out of control…

    orlando is not a very good team.

  51. One thing I’d like to see is Drew learning how to use the glass on his lefty drop step/jump hook and his normal jumper and set shot.

  52. If Phil is going to play fisher/blake against reddick/nelson, why is fisher guarding Nelson. He’s wayyyyyy too slow to guard Nelson and Nelson always eats fisher up. Reddick is just a poor man’s version of Ray Allen and Fisher always does a decent job on Ray Allen.

  53. Max – watching this game it sure doesn’t look like Orlando is one of the top three in the East.

    I curious to see how a healthy Chicago team looks.

  54. make open shots and we’ll win this one easy

  55. I love how Dwight picked up his 3rd foul with 2 1/2 minutes left in the 2nd and went to the bench, and we didn’t go to Drew or Pau in the post even once, even when Drew got good position on a couple possessions.

  56. Shannon Brown seems to have caught the hesitation bug from Ron Artest; he’s totally out of rhythm with every shot.

  57. Lakers down 4, but it feels like they’re winning.

  58. How is that not a foul?

  59. 58. The refs felt guilty about calling obvious fouls on Orlando illegal picks, so they let that intentional foul on Kobe go because they didn’t want to get booed.

  60. The lakers really have to pick it up offensively. Odom/Bynum/Kobe are playing well and the rest of the lakers are shooting 4-22. Thats just terrible and most of those shots have been bad shots.

  61. Zephid,
    Haha… Where in any of my posts did I say Lebron had a good post game? I never said that. Maybe you should be the one reading before you type. And the difference between a hard double and a soft double is both when the extra defender comes over and how fast and close he comes to the ball handler. Since the extra defender came as soon as Lebron was about to receive the ball and was right on him…. I would call that a hard double. FYI, have you noticed how much Kobe is getting doubled in the post? The answer… Not once this game. That isn’t to say Kobe doesn’t have a much better low post game.

  62. More Evidence, on that last play of the Half, that Kobe doesn’t get the Respect from the Refs that he Rightfully Deserves.

  63. Good grief. I’m agreeing with Wilbon.

  64. That last play of the half was an obvious foul, but if the refs had called it instantly then the Lakers would have had the ball out of bounds with less than two seconds on the game clock. I believe Dwight Howard went to the bench with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half and the score tied, and Fish/Kobe (especially Fish) didn’t go to Drew or Pau in the post even once. Especially in a game when Drew is active down low, your guards HAVE to reward him for getting good post position. He has a huge size advantage over Brandon Bass. Hell, he even has a size advantage over Dwight. Make Orlando pay. I’m sure our coaching staff is emphasizing this point right now in the locker room.

  65. Mini stretch of focus loss for Lakers, as out of the last 4-5 shots in the half, only one taken by a big (An awkward Gasol jumper) after Howard’s 3rd. Big moment for Orlando to escape that stretch with the lead. They are a little bit more desperate than the Lakers so far.

  66. 63,
    Haha… He stated the obvious. The Lakers perimeter players like to show maybe themselves that they are as good as the post players. And they aren’t. Haha. I likes Phil’s stance in this. He never forces his players to do the right thing…. He feels they will figure it out on their own. But yea…the balls on the Lakers perimeter players…. Howard goes to the bench and Bynum has a SF on him and they won’t give him the ball. When Bynum gets in shape he will be demanding the ball every time down he court.

  67. this game would really solidify what they lakers have done on this trip. be nice to get this W…

  68. 66. I know…and Drew WAS calling for the ball. Fish saw the mismatch and called his own number. And Dwight’s post game has obviously improved from 2009.

  69. Zephid wrote on February 13, 2011 at 11:27 am

    “This is hilarious. Rondo is defending James because James has no post game. HILARIOUS.”

    Aaron wrote on February 13, 2011 at 11:30 am

    If that was true then they wouldn’t be doubling him every time he touched the ball in the post.”

    Either you’re saying that A) Lebron has a post game, which you just said wasn’t the case. So it must be B) that Rondo wasn’t defending James, which is also false. Logic isn’t your forte, so it’s understandable that you wouldn’t get that right.

    And the defender didn’t get within arm’s length of James on the doubles and came slowly after he started to dribble, a classic soft double. Observation is also not your forte, so it’s understandable that you wouldn’t get that right.

  70. Yes…Drew used the glass!

  71. atrocious D from Pau on that lob play…that was like Daria in PE volleyball

  72. Let’s call it a draw and move on

  73. Dwight Howard is too small to guard Bynum in the low post… But we refuse to give him the ball.

  74. @73. That’s why I was so disgusted when an even smaller defender was on him when Howard went to the bench, Drew called for the ball in the low post, and the guards called their own number every time.

  75. The lakers are flat-flooted and look confused on both ends of the floor.

    Man fisher just cannot make a shot.

    *right on cue

  76. Great shot by Artest. He needs to stop taking corner threes and shoot more from the top of the key.

  77. About time Derek and Ron knocked down an open 3…

  78. @76. True…Ron’s percentages have always been lower from the corner.

  79. Is pau really that bad defensively?

    Looks like the lakers are going to be in for a long one unless they decide to lock up defensively and contest those perimeter shots

  80. 79,
    He has never been known as a good one on one defensive player. Because he isn’t. Haha.

  81. The Lakers should get the ball back with two seconds left on the game clock and no basket for Orlando if these refs have a clue.

  82. Arenas was out of bounds, but I don’t think refs can overturn that. They can only say it wasn’t out of Howard’s ends at the buzzer, but it was.

  83. I hope Bynum finishes this game. I won’t be shocked if Bynum doesn’t finish this game because phil is so stubborn. But Pau hasn’t had a great game and can’t defend howard. And when Pau was at the power forward he was slow rotating to Anderson all game on the perimeter.

  84. @80. I’m going to disagree with you there. Pau is a solid defender in the postseason. I remember in Game 5 against Howard in 2009, Pau guarded him one-on-one with no doubleteams in something like 25 possessions, and Howard only made one FG off of him. I think there are times when Pau isn’t all that great defensively, but that usually happens when his play isn’t all that great overall.

  85. I give up on this game on to other things. Phil just said they lost all three quarters well they’re going to lose the game.

  86. OMG Andrew.

  87. This is why Bynum doesn’t close games; his body breaks down.

  88. God, please let it just be a bumped knee
    Edit- Thank FSM, that’s what it looks like

  89. Whew! He told Vitti that he’s good.

  90. Luke! the Dwight stopper

  91. Bynum 1-4 to start the quarter, the 1 being spoon fed to him by Blake.

  92. This game is annoying. Let’s see how big Phil wants to let the lead balloon to before he puts the starters back in.

  93. @92. He should have used the glass on both of his last two misses. He needs to do that every time there’s an angle. I don’t know if the coaching staff is telling him or not, but it’s just so easy to pick a spot on the backboard from five feet away and try to hit that spot.

  94. …….and there’s the lack of focus and intensity against quality teams we’d grown accustomed to. I’d hoped they’d left it in L.A., but it must have caught the red eye to Orlando.

    Just a lazy effort, reflective in a willingness to settle for moronic threes and contested long range twos rather than doing the work necessary to beat an Orlando frontline we should steam roll.

    Gross. Now we hand back the loss we gained from Boston on Thursday.

  95. pau’s pouting tonight, not happy about something

  96. Ah whatever. I’ll take 6-1.

  97. 95, really? I don’t think the Lakers had a lack of intensity in this game. Sure Artest took one really bad three, but that’s pretty much guaranteed. Gasol didn’t play particularly well, but he didn’t play particularly poorly either. Howard had a very good game; he bested both Bynum and Gasol.

    Really, the difference in this game is the three point shooting and Bynum missing a bunch of gimmies around the rim.

  98. Why is Phil finishing the game with Bynum on the bench?

    There is no prayer for either Odom or Gasol against Howard today.

    11 points in the quarter, with the size advantages we have? Horrendous. I’d give more props to Orlando, but all they did was show up and play. Lakers flew directly to Charlotte from New York. Nobody did anything worth praising.

  99. just one of those games guys, chill out

  100. @99 Game’s over. No reason to reaggrivate the knee he already tweaked in third quarter.

  101. 99, my bet would be Bynum’s knee hurting + him being out of shape. That and he couldn’t get it going against Howard in the first 5 minutes of the 4th, going 1-4 while Howard went 2-2.

  102. I think all three of Bynum’s 4th quarter misses were contested by Howard, although the 8 or 10-ft turnaround jump shot he missed might have been contested by Bass. They weren’t exactly chippies, although he should have made more of his close-in shots throughout the game by going glass.

  103. 96,
    I think Pau just is annoyed whenever he has to play Center against real big men. Most PF’s won’t even let their coaches play them at Center (see KG) at all.

  104. I actually forgot we played today and boy I am glad I did. I am not going to complain though. 4-1 road trip so far and 3 teams whom were very good at home, I will take that. Next two games are very winnable as long as the Lakers actually show up, which did not seem to be the case today.

  105. Reign on Parades February 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Derek Fisher, 2-7 (0-2)
    Ron Artest, 2-6 (1-4)
    Steve Blake, 0-2 (0-2)
    Shannon Brown, 2-10 (0-3)

    Typical awful performance by the starting PG and SF + Unusual awful performance by the Killer Bs – Barnes = 3v5 offense all day

    I wish Derek Fisher would retire already

  106. Also, just like the game in Boston was more important to us, this game was much more important for Orlando.

  107. Bottom Line: Total Domination by D. Howard.

    Also, our Perimeter Shooting was Horrendous. Hopefully, we can get back on track tomorrow night, but The Bobcats always seems to give us problems.

  108. @106

    LOL, don;t ignore FIsher contribution on the playoffs.

  109. Forget Carmelo, what this team continues to lack is reliable outside shooting. For Fisher, Artest, Brown, and Blake to go 1-11 on the shots the type of open 3s they were getting is just felonious.

  110. I guess it’s lucky that I couldn’t get out of the Dora The Explorer marathon that was dominating my television.

  111. 3rd game in four days, good opponent on the road, dominant performance by a dominant center on the other team. That is just the NBA.

    BUT the lack of a pure shooter and the lack of a guy who can play O in transition are specific weaknesses for the Lakers that are not going away. Barnes may help with the latter if he can come back, and it is too bad that Vujacic did not become the former, as was the plan when Kupchak gave him the three-year deal.

  112. Big win for the Magic and a rough loss for LA.