By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and in a stunning upset from Tuesday night, the Orlando Magic—less than a week from trading away its three best players for future assets—defeated the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite jumping to a seemingly insurmountable lead during the first quarter, the Clippers choked away the game thanks to a 21-to-5 run by the Magic to close the game. 2019 first-round pick Chuma Okeke led the way for Orlando with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. However, the loss says a lot more about the youth-laden Magic’s feistiness than it does about the Clippers. L.A. sits in third place in the West and will likely look to make a statement tomorrow night in a tough match-up against the surging Denver Nuggets.
Evan Fournier, one of the players dealt by Orlando last week, had a spectacularly awful debut with the Boston Celtics. Fournier went 0-of-10 from the field in a loss to the Pelicans, going scoreless across 33 minutes of action. Boston is in the thick of the race at the back-end of the Eastern Conference playoff field, currently a game up over the Pacers and three ahead of Chicago in the standings. Tonight, Fournier will look to make a bigger impact for Boston as the Celtics face the Dallas Mavericks.
When LaMelo Ball went down with a likely season-ending wrist injury, it could have spelled doom for the Charlotte Hornets. However, the Hornets continue to play well and are currently in fourth place in the East following a win over the Wizards on Tuesday night. Without Ball, DeVonte Graham is seeing a noticeable increase in his usage, while Gordon Hayward led Charlotte with 26 points in the win over Washington. On Sunday, Charlotte put up an impressive fight in an overtime loss to the Suns, in which Graham scored 30. The Hornets face the Brooklyn Nets, who enters Wednesday tied with the 76ers atop the East tomorrow night.
Center Andre Drummond is set to make his debut with the Los Angeles Lakers tonight. Drummond recently cleared waivers following his release from the Cleveland Cavaliers, and to little surprise, the former two-time All-Star was quick to join the defending champions. With Anthony Davis and LeBron James sidelined, Drummond will likely be seeing ample playing time in the short-term. Still, in the playoffs, it isn’t easy to foresee his potential impact. On paper, this seems like a massive get for the Lakers. However, it is unlikely to move the needle for Los Angeles in the long run.
In a development that seems tough to believe, the Major League Baseball season starts tomorrow, with a full slate of Opening Day games on tap. The defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers are once again entering the season as the team to beat, adding reigning NL Cy Young-winner Trevor Bauer over the off-season.
Of course, while the Dodgers are the World Series favorites, L.A. may not even win the NL West as the San Diego Padres are loaded with talent and ready to join baseball’s elite teams. The Padres, led by MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr., added a pair of aces over the winter, acquiring Yu Darvish and Blake Snell via trade.
Elsewhere in the National League, the Atlanta Braves will be challenged by the New York Mets in what could be an old-fashioned race for the NL East for the long-time rivals. The Mets acquired star shortstop Francisco Lindor over the winter, creating arguably the NL’s most potent offense. In Atlanta, Ronald Acuna looks poised to chase another MVP-worthy season while both teams hope their talent-rich pitching rotations can avoid injuries.
It’s once again the New York Yankees standing as the team to beat in the American League, with injuries being the only thing that could hinder the team’s quest for dominance. Minnesota and Houston will again challenge the Yankees for the AL crown, as will the always-interesting Rays, retooled Toronto Blue Jays, and on-the-verge Chicago White Sox. It may take a few weeks to feel like baseball season, but it’s going to be a fun one.