It took five tries, but the Lakers finally won a game without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, beating the moribund Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. And all of a sudden — after losing the previous four games — they have a chance to start a streak in the other direction with the openly tanking Orlando Magic coming to town on Sunday.
“But wait Harrison,” I can hear you saying, “aren’t the Magic sort of competent?” To which I will say no, hypothetical straw man I created for narrative purposes, they are not. That was the old Magic. The new Magic suck out loud.
No one ripped their roster down to the studs more than Orlando did at the NBA trade deadline, shipping out 2021 All-Star Nikola Vucevic as well as Aaron Gordon, Evan “Never Google” Fournier, Gary Clark and Al Farouq-Aminu, who have started a combined 120 games for the team this season. That’s five of their 10 most frequent starters.
Their injury report doesn’t exactly paint an inspiring picture of reinforcements being on the way, either:
Of note: The Magic also traded five of their 10-most frequent starters at the deadline. Two of the other 10 are out. Terrence Ross, probably their best remaining player, may not play.— Buyout Market Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 27, 2021
In short: Even the shorthanded Lakers should win this one. Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and Dennis Schröder (at least) are all better than pretty much anyone the Magic will be suiting up on Sunday. And just like that, the undermanned Lakers have a really, really good chance to win their second game in a row and push off their seemingly inevitable fall down the standings. At 29-17, they are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference, with a 1.5 game lead on the fifth-place Denver Nuggets (27-18).
Now, a win with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis sidelined is never assured, but the Lakers really should be favored here. We’ll see if they can take care of business when these two teams tip off at 7 p.m. on Sunday. The game will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.
Notes and Updates
- The Lakers had no new injuries to report after Friday night’s win. Anthony Davis (right calf strain), Jared Dudley (right MCL tear) and LeBron James (right ankle sprain) are out.
- How have the Lakers maintained the best defense in the league and barely even dropped off without both of their stars? Simple: It’s time to give Frank Vogel his flowers.
- The Lakers reportedly want a wing. Who should they go with? Our own Sabreena Merchant took a look.