LOS ANGELES – Just one day after completing a season sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Orlando Magic have a chance to earn a victory over another team in the same city.
The Magic (29-42) will attempt to close their four-game road trip out West with a win when they face the Los Angeles Lakers (34-37) in a Sunday night showdown at 9:30 p.m. ET.
After tipping off their road swing with a disappointing loss in San Antonio, Orlando took the championship-contending Phoenix Suns down to the wire before ultimately coming up short, and then followed that up with a thrilling victory in L.A.
Now, the Magic look to continue to build on that momentum against a Lakers squad desperate for victories as L.A. attempts to climb up the Western Conference standings and remain in contention for a spot in the NBA’s play-in tournament.
“It was huge,” said Magic point guard Markelle Fultz of his team’s victory over the Clippers. “Especially because we had moments like this in the past where we didn’t close out and had a couple mistakes on our end that led to losses. But again, to put together a whole game, and weather their runs, and continue to push, and continue to stay together was big (on Saturday). Just shows what we’re capable of when we stay locked in the whole game.”
Fultz was a key factor in that victory as he erupted for a career-high 28 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists, and four steals. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft continues to make strides and flash the talent that made him such a coveted piece coming out of the University of Washington.
Over Orlando’s last five games, the 6-foot-4 guard is averaging 20.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the floor, 37.5 percent from deep, and 90.0 percent from the free throw line.
“What you’re seeing from me is a guy that doesn’t take anything for granted (and) that’s going out there to try and do anything to help his team win,” said Fultz of his progress. “The sky is the limit. I feel like I have a high ceiling. I have so much room to grow. So, every day I’m just trying to get a little bit better. That’s what you’re seeing out there.”
Due to players being in and out of their lineup as well as moves made around the trade deadline, it’s hard to define the areas in which the Lakers consistently excel.
However, both recently and over the course of the season, they’ve hurt teams in transition, putting up 16.6 fast break points per game – fourth most in the NBA.
With LeBron James currently sidelined, L.A.’s offensive attack will be led by big man Anthony Davis, who’s averaging 26.1 points to go along with a league-leading 12.5 rebounds per game.
In his nine games since being acquired by the Lakers, guard D’Angelo Russell has certainly made an impact, averaging 17.9 points and 6.4 assists per contest.
IN AND OUT: Orlando's injury report is not yet submitted. However, Jalen Suggs (concussion) and Jonathan Isaac (left adductor surgery) did not play against the Clippers on Saturday.
For L.A., Davis (right foot; stress injury) is probable, while Mo Bamba (left ankle sprain), James (right foot soreness), Scotty Pippen Jr. (G League – Two-Way), and Cole Swider (G League – Two-Way) are out.
KEY STAT: During the month of March, the Magic are averaging 118.4 points per game. Orlando has scored 110-plus points in all nine games this month and 120-plus points on three of those occasions.
The highest scoring average during any month in team history is 116.8 points, set back in Nov. 1994.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “The great part about Franz (Wagner) is that his teammates trust him to step into that moment and make the big shots. And that’s how these guys have played all year when it comes to the trust factor of one another. Whoever takes that shot, they are supporting one another knowing they are capable of doing it because of the work that they put in.” – Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley on Franz Wagner, who hit a critical triple with 41.1 seconds left in Orlando’s win over the Clippers
HOW TO WATCH: Watch the game on Bally Sports Florida or tune in on radio via FM 96.9 The Game.