The Orlando Magic are turning their season around. Since losing seven out of eight games and falling to 16-12, they have won four straight games to improve to 20-12. After back-to-back road wins, the Magic will try to extend their winning streak to five when they take on the New York Knicks Thursday night.
The Knicks were defeated by the Miami Heat Tuesday night, dropping their record to 18-13. However, it’s been quite the turnaround for the Knicks. They look like a legitimate playoff team and before dropping that game in Miami, they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bull in consecutive games. The Knicks have been solid away form Madison Square Garden, posting a 10-6 road record.
The Knicks are seventh in offensive rating (110.2), 24th in defensive rating (109.2) and second in pace (96.6).
The Magic rank 16th in offensive rating (106.2), fourth in defensive rating (101.3) and 18th in pace (91.7).
The game will be shown nationally on TNT. 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 Amway Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST.
The Line: Orlando – 7.5
New York Knicks
Quentin Richardson (flu-like symptoms) and Malik Allen (sprained left ankle) are questionable for the Magic.
Update: Richardson will not play.
The officials will be James Capers, Pat Fraher and Derek Richardson.
Opponent To Watch: Amar’e Stoudemire, F/C – Stoudemire has been absolutely fantastic this season. The big man is having an MVP-caliber season, averaging 26.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Stoudemire was especially good against the Magic last season, going for 26.5 points and 12.0 rebounds per game in their two meetings and is playing at even higher level this time.
What To Watch For: Stoudemire took a little bit of a shot at Dwight Howard earlier in the week.
“He’s definitely a physical specimen down there in the post,” Stoudemire said of Howard. “He’s definitely a great defensive player. Offensively, he’s a little limited, so we’re going to use that to our advantage.
“He’s so strong once he catches the ball in the paint. He’s hard to guard,” added Stoudemire, who said he was briefly a Magic fan. “But if you can get him outside the paint and make him put the ball on the floor, it’s easier for us.”
Everyone has seen the way Howard has improved his post game and with Stoudemire’s comments, we may see Howard try to take it to him early.
Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy has talked about pushing the pace with all of his, new explosive offensive players. The Knicks are the second highest paced team in the league so we could be in for quite the exciting game.
(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).