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Do You Believe in Magic? Wizards vs. Lakers Preview

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After losing Kobe to a season-ending injury, the Lakers press on and host the Washington Wizards at the Staples Center

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into tonight’s game against the Wizards, the Lakers are a team in disarray and looking for direction. With the Mamba undergoing season-ending surgery on a torn rotator cuff this week, there is a clear leadership vacuum and big shoes to fill on offense. To make matters worse, the Lakers are in the midst of a season-worst 8 game skid. It’s hard to see a scenario where the 2014-15 Lakers aren’t worse than the group that set the franchise record for futility last season.

At this point, Lakers fans are looking for a silver lining in two places: keeping their top 5 protected pick from the Phoenix Suns and using the rest of the season to evaluate next year’s prospects. It’s safe to say that some of the Lakers tradable assets will probably be shipped out with an eye towards the future, but the youth moment has also begun on the court in Staples Center. Promising rookie Jordan Clarkson has started to get some run and guys like Ryan Kelly will also start to see some more action.

The visiting Washington Wizards are in a very different situation. After years of failed rebuilding, their roster finally came together last season and advanced to the conference semi-finals in the East. The Wizards smartly complemented their Wall-Beal core with solid veteran signings, bringing in Paul Pierce, DeJuan Blair, and Kris Humphries in the offseason.

At presstime, the Wizards had passed the stagnant Raptors for the 2nd seed in the East with a 30-15 record. They are a team with an All-Star franchise point guard in John Wall, a deadly shooter in Bradley Beal, and a versatile roster that can give anybody match-up problems. Marcin "The Hammer" Gortat is also one of the most entertaining players in the league. His Mad Max mohawk and emotional brand of basketball are fun to behold.

The Lakers are a team with nothing to lose, which can make them dangerous for anyone looking ahead on the schedule. To have a chance, the Lakers will need to find a way to slow down the Wizards mid-ranked offense, but they are going to struggle to score on Washington. Team Wall comes in sporting a top 10 defense (100.1 points per 100 possessions) and a desire to protect their spot in the standings. Can the Lakers make a game of it?

Tune in to tonight’s game to see what happens.

Time: 7:30 p.m. PT

Station: TWCSN