“I think this will be a good test for our team,” said Coach Phil Jackson before tonight’s showdown against the Orlando Magic. Boasting a shiny 14-4 record, the Magic certainly will provide just that for the Lakers, offering a balanced scoring attack and the amazing physical specimen that is Dwight Howard.
When plotting the Lakers’ game plan, Jackson said he will likely have to adjust his defensive schemes throughout the game as there is no “correct” way to guard Orlando. According to Jackson, it’s a pick your poison kind of scenario since the Magic are proficient from beyond the arc, but also present an intimidating interior presence in Howard. Jackson said that Andrew Bynum in particular will be relied upon to keep Dwight at bay, especially with the Lakers best man-to-man defender Kwame Brown out with injury.
With regards to Kwame, Jackson said is able to do some things on the floor, but reiterated that it is still early to declare a definitive return date for the center. If he continues to show improvement, there is a chance he could be back for next Sunday’s game versus the Warriors.
Tonight’s match-up marks the return of Brian Cook and Maurice Evans, both of whom were recently traded to the Magic. Jackson said that it would be a little weird to see both players on the opposite bench, but that it isn’t of the same magnitude as it was when Shaq made his return to Los Angeles as a member of the Miami Heat. Jackson said that seldom used Trevor Ariza-traded for Cook and Evans-would likely see playing time tonight since he knows the Magic better than anyone.