On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers play the penultimate game of their marathon seven-game road trip.
On the second night of a Florida back-to-back, the Lakers are in Orlando to take on the Magic. The Orlando Magic are not a good team. With only 11 wins after 43 games, the Magic have the second worst record in the NBA. For all the talk of the Lakers needing to tank to get a top three pick, the Magic have done just that.
At home, the Magic are 8-14, which is not all that bad considering they only have 11 wins on the season. However, Orlando has lost 12 of the last 13 games and only has one win in 2014.
Not too far behind, the Lakers have dropped eight of the last 10 games and only have three wins in 2014. However, the Lakers have looked a significantly improved side over the past four games. After winning in Boston and Toronto, the Lakers lost in an overtime thriller in Chicago before falling to the Miami Heat in a close contest.
After Friday night’s Orlando adventure, the Lakers will board a flight for New York City to face the New York Knicks for an early Sunday game. Before looking to Sunday, though, the Lakers need to take care of business on Friday.
For the Magic, former UCLA Bruin Aaron Afflalo leads the team in scoring at 20.2 points per game. Nikola Vucevic, who attended USC, averages a double-double with 13.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game, but the former Trojan has been ruled out of Friday’s game due to a concussion. Vucevic has only featured in one of the last 10 games for the Magic.
Shooting guard Victor Oladipo has been in form as of late, and the Lakers have a habit of allowing the opposition to score season-highs. Oladipo’s season-high is 35 points, and he is coming off a 24-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Over the past five games, Oladipo is averaging 17.8 points per game, so the Lakers should be weary of Oladipo's scoring ability.
With the Lakers playing better basketball recently, and players such as Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Kendall Marshall and Pau Gasol all consistently providing positive contributions, LA should claim its 17th victory of the season.
If not, the Lakers will have a long flight to New York.