After snapping their four game losing streak with a victory over the Clippers in Los Angeles Sunday night, the Orlando Magic will face a tough test when they battle Denver Nuggets Tuesday night. Denver has always been a difficult place for the Magic to play and that was no different last season when the Nuggets handled the Magic 115-97 at the Pepsi Center.
The Magic come into the game with a record of 16-8. The Nuggets are coming off a loss in New York against the Knicks Sunday that dropped their record to 14-9. Carmelo Anthony’s apparent trade demands have been the story of the Nuggets’ season but he’s still scoring 23.1 points and grabbing 8.2 rebounds per game. However, his shooting percentages have dropped. He’s shooting 42.7% from the field and just 28.6% from beyond the arc.
The game will be shown locally by Sun Sports and nationally by NBA TV. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.
Tip off from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado is scheduled for 9:00 pm EST.
The Line: Orlando – 2.0
The officials will be Steve Javie, Kevin Fehr and Kane Fitzgerald
Opponent To Watch: Chauncey Billups, PG – Carmelo Anthony and his trade demands is all you really hear about out of Denver but they still have a guard who’s been one of the league’s best players over the last decade – Chauncey Billups. Billups is a noted Magic killer. The one-time Magic player (who actually never played in a game for the team) has tormented Magic fans on several occasions. As the point guard of the Detroit Pistons, Billups helped his squad eliminate the Magic from the postseason in 2003, 2007 and 2008. Billups is having a down year, scoring just 14.4 points per game on 35.1% shooting from the field and is shooting 35.4% from beyond the arc. Over his career, he’s shot 41.5% from the field and 38.7% from downtown and despite his struggles this season, the Magic know what Billups is capable of – he averaged 21 points and 5 assists per game against Orlando last season.
UPDATE: Billups is now listed as questionable with a wrist injury.
What To Watch For: The Magic ended their winning streak by beating the Clippers but a loss here would make them just 1-3 on their road trip with their lone win coming against a team that is just 5-20. A win over a team like Denver and a 2-2 finish “save” the trip. The Magic pushed the pace early in the Clippers game so it will be interesting to see if they do it again because the Nuggets rank second in the NBA in pace (96.5). The Magic usually prefer to play at a slower pace (91.1, 19th in the league). The Magic will have get it done on the defensive end – the Nuggets are sixth in offensive rating (110.5). Despite their recent struggles, Orlando is still third in defensive rating (100.9).
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, co-host of CB Sports Radio from 5-7 pm week days (1420sports.com) and ESPN 1080′s Magic Insider (http://espn1080.com). Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).