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Preview: Lakers vs. Orlando Magic

Preview: Lakers vs. Orlando Magic
Lakers forward Nick Young has his layup challenged by Magic forward Kyle O'Quinn during a game last season. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Lakers (11-25) host the Orlando Magic (13-25) on Friday night at Staples Center, two teams struggling in their respective conferences.

At 14th in the West, the Lakers have lost nine of their last 12 games -- as have the Magic, currently in 13th place in the East.

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Ronnie Price, who broke his nose on Monday, is expected to play. The Lakers will be without Wesley Johnson (hip), Steve Nash (back), and Julius Randle (leg).

Key matchup

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Tobias Harris, a restricted free agent this summer, has put together a very strong start to the season. Through 36 appearances, Harris is averaging a team best 18.1 points a game while shooting 47.4% from the field and 40.7% from three-point range.

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With Johnson out, the Lakers don't have their best perimeter defender available against Harris, who may find Kobe Bryant and Nick Young aren't exactly the shut-down types.

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Coach Byron Scott started Wayne Ellington at shooting guard and Bryant at the three against the Clippers. The game did not go well for the Lakers.

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Offensively, Bryant is looking to pass the ball after recognizing that his body can't take on every team single-handedly.

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The Magic have held teams to just below 100 points a game (99.2). The Lakers need to put together a strong performance, without taking Orlando's record for granted.

The Magic have nine wins on the road and just four at home.

X-factor

Right behind Harris in scoring is Nikola Vucevic, averaging 18.0 points a game, along with 11.0 rebounds.

The Magic also rely on guards Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. Oladipo has grown as a shooter while Payton is a strong assist man. Evan Fournier is also having a strong year.

Jordan Hill, Ed Davis and Robert Sacre need to be mindful of Vucevic. Jeremy Lin, Price, Ellington and Bryant will have their hands full with the Magic guard core. 

Outlook

The Lakers have the chance to beat a fellow downtrodden team. After a poor showing on Wednesday against the Clippers, expect the Lakers to rebound against the Magic.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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