Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic game preview

BY The Sports Xchange • December 23, 2016

TV: FOX Sports Florida


TIME: Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.


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The Orlando Magic cannot quite put their finger on what is happening when they don the white home jerseys and take the floor at the Amway Center.

The Magic are doing a stellar job on the road. They own a win over the San Antonio Spurs, just the fifth in the team's 28-year history. They have topped the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, Washington Wizards and Oklahoma City Thunder -- all on the road.

They hope to score a home win Friday when they take on the slumping Los Angeles Lakers.

Orlando is one of the few teams that has a record at .500 or better on the road. Where the Magic are unique, in a bad way, is with the home record. The Magic have a 5-10 record at the Amway Center, making them the only team with a .500-or-better road record and a sub-.500 home record.

It is a strange place for a team that was hoping to take a step forward and make the Playoffs this year. The Magic's inability to defend their home court is a puzzling trend that emerged early on this season and is holding their record back.

"I don't know, maybe we like the challenge of winning on the road because it's us against the world," guard Evan Fournier told the Orlando Sentinel. "It's hard to say why. We definitely should have more confidence at home, but I don't know what to say really."

Typically, a team that is about .500 on the road will make the playoffs on the strength of a strong home record. Road wins are supposed to make up for home losses. Orlando is subverted that typical trend.

That does not mean the Magic are still a super reliable road team. Orlando looked lifeless in falling to the New York Knicks 106-95 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Orlando certainly might be looking to come home for a reset before the holidays.

The Lakers are stumbling into the Amway Center, too. Los Angeles will play the second night of a back-to-back to close out a seven-game road trip that started in Sacramento on Dec. 12.

The Lakers have just one win in six games on the trip so far, over the league-worst Philadelphia 76ers one week ago. They lost a 19-point lead in a 115-107 loss to the Miami Heat on Thursday at American Airlines Arena, their 11th defeat in the past 12 games.

"I'm a little confused myself why we're not able to put together 48 minutes," Los Angeles coach Luke Walton said. "The first half was great. We shared the ball. We got stops. We communicated. But it takes more than that to win games, and, for whatever reason, we don't have it yet.

"Maybe we're missing something. If you have suggestions, let me know, and we'll take them into consideration." The Lakers will have their own difficulties beyond their struggles on the road -- 5-13 away from home.

Los Angeles may be without two key players for Friday's game. Julius Randle left the Lakers before the Thursday game in Miami to be with his fiancee for the birth of his first child in Los Angeles. It was unclear, but seemingly unlikely, whether he would return cross country to Orlando for Friday's game.

The Lakers also will be without promising young forward Larry Nance Jr. An MRI confirmed he has a bone bruise on his knee that will keep him out indefinitely.

 


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