Fresh off of two enormous home wins over the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics, the Orlando Magic will hit the road, heading to New Jersey to play the Nets.
These two teams have met twice this year with the Magic winning both meetings but neither has been easy. Back on November 5th, the Magic rallied from a three-point halftime and came away with a 105-90 victory behind a dominating third quarter performance. In their next meeting which came on November 13th in New Jersey, the Magic once again had to rally and needed a last second jumper by Jameer Nelson to come away with a 91-90 victory.
The Nets are coming off a 105-91 loss in New Orleans to the Hornets Wednesday night. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak, dropping the Nets to 9-21 on the season. Prior to their two-game winning streak, the Nets had lost 14 of their last 17 games. The Magic’s 86-78 victory over the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day improved their record to 18-12.
The Nets rank 28th in pace (89.6), 26th in offensive rating (102.0) and 17th in defensive rating (107.1).
The game will be shown locally on Sun Sports. 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 Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST.
The Line: Orlando – 6
New Jersey Nets
The officials will be Scott Foster, John Goble and Karl Lane.
Opponent To Watch: Brook Lopez, C – Lopez has traditionally struggled against Dwight Howard but ha 23 points in their last meeting. Lopez has averaged 16.4 points per game on 50.0% shooting in his career but averages just 13.3 points per game on 42.4% shooting against the Magic. Still, Lopez is a talent and Howard will be anxious to get back on the right track offensively after getting into foul trouble and scoring just 6 points on 1-of-4 shooting (and 4-of-10 shooting from the free throw line) against the Celtics Saturday.
What To Watch For: The Magic seem to be getting it together. Hedo Turkoglu looks very comfortable in Orlando’s and even shot 6-of-10 from the field. Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson are yet to find their shooting touch but they’re doing a good job of helping others get involved. Passing is probably the most underrated part of Arenas’ games and he’s made some brilliant dishes in his first few games. All the Magic can hope for is for the team continues to gel and play better every game. So far, they’ve done that. The Nets are an inferior opponent but the Magic can’t take them lightly – the Nets have given them two tough games already this season.
Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy has stressed he wants his team to play at a faster pace and seeing as how the Nets are the third slowest paced team in the NBA, the Magic will try to quicken the pace.
(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).