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Lakers Vs. Magic: Orlando Three-Pointers A Concern For Lakers

The Lakers will have their hands full today dealing with Dwight Howard of the Magic, and rightfully so. The starting center for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game for the fourth straight season, Howard just might be enjoying his finest offensive season. His usage rate of 27.4% is the highest of his career, and he is averaging a career-high 22.5 points and 11.5 free throw attempts per game. However, the Lakers must also be concerned with the prolific three-point shooting of Orlando as well.

The Magic lead the league in three-pointers made, and threes attempted this season by a wide margin. The Magic are shooting 36.2% from beyond the arc this season, which is 14th in the NBA and quite similar to the Lakers at 36.3%. But the Magic have attempted a whopping 1,419 threes this season, over 100 more than the second-place team (the Knicks) in the NBA. Orlando attempts 25.8 threes per game, about six more than the NBA league average.

Since reshaping their roster on December 18, the Magic have become even more prolific from three-point range. In two separate trades, they acquired Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Earl Clark for Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round pick and cash.

Orlando Long Distance Shooting 2010-2011
Split Games 3pt Att/Gm 3pt FG/Gm 3pt %
Before Trades    
26 23.7 8.3 35.2%
After Trades 29 27.7 10.2 36.9%

The Magic's offensive identity is close to what they had in 2009. They have almost a mushroom setup, with Howard in the middle surrounded by three-point shooters, with Turkoglu the man to take the big shots down the stretch, a role Carter couldn't fill. Howard is complemented by a bevy of long distance shooters.

Magic Three-Point Shooters
Player 3pt Att/Gm 3pt FG/Gm 3pt %
Jason Richardson    
5.9 2.1 35.9%
Ryan Anderson 5.3 2.1 39.6%
Jameer Nelson 4.0 1.6 39.9%
Hedo Turkoglu 3.3 1.2 36.1%
J.J. Redick 3.9 1.6 41.1%

The Lakers' best hope is to make Arenas shoot those threes, as he has attempted 3.6 three-pointers per game with the Magic, but is hitting just 25.7% of those attempts. Arenas is a career 35.2% three-point shooter, so don't expect those poor numbers to continue.