After the Lakers had their tails kicked by the Clippers, their head coach poured a bit of salt in their wounds by calling them soft (equating that to a slap in the face) while noting that he’s interested in seeing how his team responds after getting beat so severely. He essentially made it seem that the Lakers should come out and play much harder and not get rolled on like they did by the Clippers.
Well, tonight is their chance to do just that. The Orlando Magic visit Staples Center tonight and will try to improve on their 13-25 record that has them only two games behind the Miami heat for the 8th seed in the East. Orlando offers a nice young roster with some talent that is improving and, with some more seasoning, could form the foundation of an interesting team moving forward.
While they lack that transcendent superstar player in the Shaq/Penny/McGrady/Dwight mold they’ve had in the past, they have several quality youngsters who I like a lot. It starts in their backcourt with Victor Olidipo and Elfrid Payton. Both lottery picks, the young guards offer some athleticism, smarts, and most of all hard work. And in the front court they have Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic who, have developed into nice rotation players in the past couple of seasons. It’s a shame that rookie Aaron Gordon is out for the year or I truly believe that this group, along with Channing Frye, Kyle O’Quinn, Evan Fournier, and Luke Ridnour have a nice mix of youth and experience to try and take a step forward this year. Though, to be fair, some of this may simply come down to coaching as Jauque Vaughn hasn’t really shown the creativity and savvy hoped for coming out of the Spurs’ organization.
In saying all this, in a way, it doesn’t really matter who tonight’s opponent is. If you’re a Lakers fan, what you’re really looking for is some sort of bounce back effort from Wednesday’s game against the Clipps. The Lakers are better than they showed and, in losing the way they did, brought back some of the bad feelings they’d experienced early in the year when they were getting their hats handed to them regularly. So, while X’s and O’s matter, I guess what I’m really eyeing tonight is how the team responds and whether they can find some of the better play they’d achieved during the previous four games.
Because, if they can’t bring some of that tonight, it may really be time to make some of the changes many (including me) have been hinting at over the course of the first 30 plus games. And with the trade deadline coming up in a month and several western teams making moves recently to solidify their lineups in the hopes of making a strong push in the lead up to the run towards the playoffs, the Lakers may need to join that action and shape up their roster in a way that better promotes long term planning.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.