SportsLakersLakers Now

Preview: Lakers vs. Orlando Magic

Professional BasketballSportsBasketballLos Angeles LakersOrlando MagicNick YoungKobe Bryant

The Lakers (22-46) have a chance to break their four-game losing streak when they host the Orlando Magic (19-51) on Sunday night at Staples Center.

Orlando comes in on the second night of a back-to-back, after a last-second, 89-88 loss to the Utah Jazz (23-47).

Jameer Nelson (knee) may not play for the Magic.

Steve Nash (nerve root irritation) is a game-time decision while the Lakers will be without Kobe Bryant (knee), Jordan Farmar (groin) and Xavier Henry (wrist).  Chris Kaman hasn't been available for a few games as well, with a foot injury.

Key matchup

Arron Afflalo is the Magic's leading scorer, having the best season of his career individually, scoring 19.3 points a game while shooting 46.4% from the field and 43.7% from three-point range.

The Lakers start Jodie Meeks at two-guard.  Meeks has averaged 15.3 points a night, shooting 45.6% and 40.0%.

Coach Mike D'Antoni may match Meeks up against Afflalo, but that's not necessarily a given as Meeks is often assigned the point guard -- possibly Victor Oladipo in the absence of Nelson.

Wesley Johnson could draw Afflalo, or small forward Maurice Harkless.

The key is finding someone for Kendall Marshall to guard, given defense is not one of his strengths.

X-factor

The Magic rely on Nikola Vucevic inside. The young center is averaging 14.1 and 10.9 rebounds a game.  The Pau Gasol/Vucevic matchup may be important but Orlando's x-factor may be Tobias Harris, who is averaging 14.8 points on the season.

Earlier in the year, Harris had a career night against the Lakers with 28 points with 20 rebounds.

On Friday, the Lakers got Nick Young back from a knee injury. Young is the Lakers' second-leading scorer at 16.8 points a night, but he's missed 18 games this season.

The Magic give up 102.2 points a night, which isn't necessarily a lot.  Instead, they're a team that can struggle to produce more than 96.8 a game offensively.

Young may help give the Lakers the offensive boost to get past Orlando.

Outlook

The Lakers have fallen to the fourth-worst record in the league, which is a positive when considering the NBA draft lottery in May.

In that sense, a win over the Magic would actually be a setback -- one the Lakers may inevitably face against a struggling Orlando squad.

ALSO:

How Lakers might be able to rebuild during Kobe Bryant's last years

Steve Nash is done for the season, Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni says

Lakers can't keep pace with Oklahoma City Thunder, 131-102

eric.pincus@gmail.com

Twitter: @EricPincus

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Comments
Loading