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NBA: Lakers look to stop squandering chances, host Magic

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The Los Angeles Lakers can’t afford to lose any more games that they’re expected to win, even when they’re not at 100 percent.

The Lakers are scheduled to host the Orlando Magic on Sunday evening, and Los Angeles could be without eight-time All-Star center Anthony Davis for a second straight game because of left knee soreness.

The Lakers did fine Friday night without Davis at the Oklahoma City Thunder, getting 33 points from LeBron James and 22 from Avery Bradley in the 116-95 victory.

The Thunder, like the Magic, are near the bottom of their conference standings and have yet to reach double digits in wins, but that brings little comfort to the Lakers, who twice lost to OKC this season before beating them on Friday.

The Lakers can ill-afford a letup against Orlando, especially after the Magic played on Saturday afternoon and lost 106-104 to the Los Angeles Clippers, who were without both Kawhi Leonard (knee) and Paul George (elbow).

“There’s teams that we should have beaten that we didn’t beat,” Lakers center DeAndre Jordan said. “We don’t want to look back in April, whatever it is, and say, ‘Oh wow, we could have had home-court advantage, we could have did this, we could have done that, if we would have finished a game out.’ ”

Los Angeles had both James and Davis in the lineup Thursday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies, but the Lakers showed they’re still vulnerable, committing 22 turnovers in the 108-95 loss.

“It’s going to come down to everyone trusting each other and not worrying about who’s performing at a high level on a given night,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

James, who has missed 12 games this season with ankle and abdominal injuries and a quick trip into the COVID-19 protocol, said he’s feeling more like himself every day.

He had a triple-double in the loss to Memphis on Thursday.

“As I continue to get stronger and stronger and my injury continues to get closer and closer to 100 percent, I’m able to go out there and do a lot of the things that I’ve been doing over my career that benefits our team,” James said. “I’m happy the way I’m feeling as of late.”

The Magic had two of the top eight picks in the NBA Draft on July 29 and were counting on significant production from them.

Jalen Suggs, who went No. 5 overall out of Gonzaga, was off to a solid start before breaking his thumb on Nov. 29, sidelining him indefinitely.

Franz Wagner, the No. 8 overall pick out of Michigan, has stepped up his game in Suggs’ absence, averaging 18.8 points in the past six games.

Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said there’s never been a doubt Wagner had all the tools to be an impact player in the NBA. He just needed the minutes.

“Coming off the pick-and-roll, being able to find the corner, being able to hit the roll man, he’s done a fantastic job of that,” Mosley said. “Just watching film and understanding the decisions he needs to make.”

–Field Level Media

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