Lakers vs. Magic: Three Things to Know (7/25/20)
Coming off Thursday’s scrimmage against Dallas, the Lakers are back at it on Saturday morning, this time against the Orlando Magic. Here are three things you need to know prior to the 9 a.m. tip on Spectrum SportsNet:
LeBron and AD Looked Like … LeBron and AD!
Not that it’s a surprise, but there wasn’t much rust on L.A.’s two All-Stars, who combined to hit 9 of 13 shots for 12 points apiece to lead the Lakers to an 11-point edge at halftime. Neither played in the second half, as they sat next to also-resting Danny Green on the bench to cheer on the other 11 players who saw court time.
LeBron also managed five assists in his 15 minutes of playing time, while Davis notched a pair of steals in his 15. If you were looking for a point of emphasis for how LeBron is feeling, after a deflection at the rim by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, LeBron exploded down the court, ran right past two Mavs who thought better of contesting him, and threw down a powerful one-handed dunk.
On to Orlando
Currently the No. 8 seed in the East, Orlando has a good chance to move up to No. 7 considering that Brooklyn has only a 0.5 game lead, and is missing much of its roster. Orlando finished 10th in the NBA in defensive rating (108.7), and should test the Lakers on that end more than Dallas (17th, 110.0), with the caveat that teams won’t typically be playing playoff-caliber defense in a scrimmage situation.
The Magic do struggle to score, ranking just 24th in offensive efficiency (107.5), though the Magic did manage to put 118 points on L.A. back in a one-point Orlando win at Staples Center in January when Markelle Fultz scored twice in the final minute to answer a LeBron 3-pointer. L.A. were caught a bit off guard in that game with Fultz being basically the only guard on the roster that was healthy enough to play (DJ Augustine, Evan Fournier and Michael Carter-Williams were both out, causing all kinds of weird lineups and matchups).
One benefit of Frank Vogel using the whole roster was our getting an extended look at 2nd round pick Talen-Horton Tucker, plus two-way players DeVontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo.
Against the Mavs, THT went for four points with a pair of rebounds in 15 minutes, while Cacok added three points and four boards, and Antetokounmpo five points with a rebound. All were active defensively, helping the Lakers close a late deficit when JR Smith fed Kostas for a layup, and then hit a 3-point to pull LAL within two in the final minute.
Vogel has been impressed by Horton-Tucker in particular in practices.
“I think two things,” said Vogel. “His body changed – he did an incredible job from the offseason last year when we drafted him up until this point right now that really changed his body, dropped a lot of weight, get himself in great shape. And he really did a lot of work on his shot. His perimeter shot really has improved throughout the course of this year. Because of those two things, he had some success, and with that success, really brought a lot of confidence to him as a young player. That’s what’s showing up right now, is how confident he’s playing. He’s playing beyond his years in these practices and scrimmages and we’re excited about what he’s doing.”
Expect to see more of all three young players in the final two scrimmages.
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