Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 103-94 victory Sunday over the Orlando Magic at Staples Center:
1. The result had plenty of draft lottery implications. A meaningless game against the bottom-feeding Orlando Magic coinciding with the NCAA tournament perfectly illustrates how the attention has rightfully shifted from the Lakers’ present to future. Even if the Lakers’ win snapped a four-game losing streak and provided a resume tape for a few breakout performers, the game still hurt their chances in banking on a top lottery pick. The Lakers (23-46) climbed over Boston (23-47) with the NBA’s fifth worst record, leaving the Lakers with a 8.8 percent chance of grabbing the top pick on May 20.
It’s unrealistic for the Lakers to fare worse than Orlando (19-52), Philadelphia (15-55) or Milwaukee (19-51). But the Lakers fare a significantly better chance at landing the top pick with the fourth worst record (11.9 percent chance) than the fifth worst mark. Of course, the Lakers will not play to lose games. The majority of the team features pending free agents playing for their next contract. But from a fan standpoint, there’s no harm for the Lakers to lose. But like how most of this season has played out, very few things have turned out in the Lakers’ favor.
2. Pau Gasol leaves the game with dizziness, nausea. As noted here, Gasol stayed in the locker room once the second half resumed because of those symptoms. It’s not clear what led to Gasol feeling that way. But this marks yet another blow to the Lakers’ injury-plagued roster that includes Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee), Steve Nash (nerve irritation in back) and Jordan Farmar (strained right groin). Gasol finished with six points on 3 of 7 shooting, two rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes before calling it a night.
3. Jordan Hill had a breakout game. After fighting through endless efforts both to stay healthy and remain a part of Mike D’Antoni’s rotation, Hill posted a season-high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 10 rebounds in XX minutes. Hill has never failed in providing hustle plays even if he doesn’t fit D’Antoni’s preference for a stretch forward. But Hill has struggled in providing that for prolonged stretches. But after missing 10 games with a hyperextended right knee, Hill has benefited from receiving both extra rest and improving his health. Considering Gasol’s absence, Hill’s emergence comes at a very needed time.
4. Nick Young provided another promising sign with his return. In only his second game since missing the past month because of soreness in his left knee, Young scored 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting through all the ways that has made him such a consistent scoring threat. Four-point plays. Pull-up jumpers. Isolation plays. Young also didn’t force the issue too much, either.
5. Steve Nash missed the game because of more back issues. He sat out after feeling a tweak in his back after posting 11 assists in 19 minutes in the Lakers’ loss Friday to Washington. That left the Lakers relying both on Kendall Marshall (four points on 2 of 7 shooting in 28 minutes) and a by-committee approach involving Jodie Meeks (12 points in 40 minutes) and Kent Bazemore (eight points in 24 minutes). Unlike in the past, Marshall didn’t have to log in heavy minutes. But if Nash has other issues down the road, he will have to increase his production.