Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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NBA Preview: Orlando Magic (29-42) at Los Angeles Lakers (34-37)

With the Orlando Magic coming to town on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers have a chance to get back on track after their current two-game losing streak has slowed their ascent up the Western Conference standings.

Friday, the Mavericks defeated the Lakers 111-110 on a 3-pointer by Maxi Kleber, who was leaning toward the basket. Los Angeles was outscored 9-3 over the final 2:48 and failed to make a field goal in the final three minutes.

The Lakers were led by 26 points and 10 rebounds from Anthony Davis, but with 7.2 seconds left, Davis fouled Kleber on a 3-point attempt. Davis missed just one of his two free throws, and Kleber missed all three of his attempts.

After LeBron James left with a foot injury, Los Angeles (34-37) went on an 8-3 run from February 15 to March 14. The majority of that turnaround occurred after James left. The Lakers’ play-in tournament hopes have been harmed and their goal of finishing in the top six in the conference has suffered as a result of the two-game skid.

Seven of the Lakers’ remaining eight games are against teams that do not rank in the top six of their respective conferences.

The first of those winnable games is against the Magic (29-42), who are out of season finisher conflict in the Eastern Gathering. However, Orlando just defeated the Los Angeles Clippers on the road by scores of 113-108.

After losing six of their previous eight games, the Magic prevailed against a West-ranked team in the top five. Markelle Fultz led a comeback from an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter by scoring 12 of his career-high 28 points.

Franz Wagner scored 20 points and hit a 3-pointer with 41 seconds remaining to give the victory enough cushion. Wendell Carter Jr. had 27 points and 12 rebounds.

Fultz, who had shoulder and knee injuries that limited him to 26 games the previous two seasons, has scored at least 20 points in four of his last nine games—the first time he has done so in consecutive games this season.

The teams are meeting for the first time since Dec. 27, when James scored 28 points and the Lakers won 129-110. Due to an injury to his right foot, Davis had missed 20 games.

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