Are the Los Angeles Lakers the Real Deal?

Article originally appears on Kyle's NBA blog,
Folks, I have been issued a challenge.  A colleague of mine – for the moment, let’s call him Nole Cowlin – is an Orlando Magic backer.  He recently reached out to me with this statement:
"I know you’re a Lakers fan, but how can you possibly say they are a better team than the Magic are right now after that beating they laid on the Hawks?  I want to see you make a case the Lakers still a legitimate shot to win the championship." -NOLE COWLIN
Well, I accept your challenge, Mr. Cowlin.  And I appreciate you coming to me with this.  I believe this is sentiment of yours is shared with many NBA fans across the country, and you presented it without exclamation points or your caps-lock on.  So I commend you.
Let’s start with some groundwork on the Orlando Magic.  Now, they are indeed a fantastic basketball team, and are playing their best ball of the season.  As I detailed in an earlier column, they play an offensive chess match, calculative in their spacing and passing, and they have the perfect recipe of outside shooting and interior strength to take out any team in the league.
Of course, they are not without their weaknesses.  Dwight Man-Child Howard may be the most potent defensive force in the league today, but he is in total lack of an offensive repertoire.  He’s currently preying on undersized Eastern Conference centers to get offensive put-backs, but once he faces up against a Shaquille O’Neal or even an Andrew Bynum, his foul trouble will return and he will begin to look remarkably average.
And as for Vince Carter, he has adjusted smoothly into Stan Van Gundy’s system in Orlando.  But he’s still Vince Carter.  And Vince Carter has yet to show up for big games.  I’d love to be...

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