Portland Trail Blazers @ Orlando Magic


After dropping a game to the Chicago Bulls Friday night, the Magic will be back in action when they host the Portland Trail Blazers Monday night.

Unfortunately, they’ll have to do it without Dwight Howard. Howard will miss the game due to a suspension after picking up his 16th technical foul Friday.

These two teams met in Portland back on December 9, which was part of the “pre-trade era.” Dwight Howard had 39 points and 15 rebounds but got no help and the Magic fell to the Blazers 97-83. Andre Miller had 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Blazers.

Portland has won their last two games to improve to 35-27, good for sixth in the western conference. This is the first game of a four-game east coast road trip for the Blazers. They will also visit Miami, Charlotte and Atlanta (in that order).

The Magic, on the other hand, are playing their last game before a five-game road trip with the first four of those coming on the west coast.

The Blazers are the slowest paced team in the league (88.4), rank 13th in offensive rating (107.9) and 15th 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 Amway Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST.

The Line: Orlando – 2.5, 188.5u

Starters:

Portland Trail Blazers

Marcus Camby
LaMarcus Aldridge
Nicolas Batum
Wesley Matthews
Andre Miller

Orlando Magic

Brandon Bass
Ryan Anderson
Hedo Tukoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

No team has had worse luck with injuries in recent years than the Blazers but things have looked better lately. Greg Oden (left knee surgery) and Elliot Williams (right knee surgery) are out for the season but outside of Rudy Fernandez’s battle with the flu (he played Saturday against Charlotte), the Blazers are fairly healthy.

The officials will be Bill Spooner, Tony Brown and Tom Washington.

Opponent To Watch: LaMarcus Aldridge, F – Aldridge is the middle of what has to be the best stretch of his career. Aldridge has always struggled against the Magic (he had just 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting in their matchup earlier this season) but should have a much easier time with the absence of Howard. He should be to take advantage of any matchup on the insider and if the Magic want to win the game, they’re going to need good defensive performances from Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson and Earl Clark.

Aldridge is averaging 22.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game this season.

What To Watch For: Orlando has traditionally performed well with Howard but this might be the worst supporting cast he’s had in the last few years. Jameer Nelson has been much more aggressive as of late, which is good, because he and Jason Richardson will really have to carry the load on offense. Defensively, Orlando has really struggled at times on the perimeter and now are missing their monster on the back end. With Brandon Roy back and Gerald Wallace now in the fold, this is also a good Blazers bench. It’s going to take an inspiring performance with a lot of contributions from several different players for the Magic to pull this one out.

Additional Reading:

Blazers Edge
Rip City Project
The Oregonian’s Blazers Blog

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger 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).

Tags: Brandon Bass Brandon Roy Dwight Howard Earl Clark Gilbert Arenas Hedo Turkoglu J.j. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Lamarcus Aldridge Malik Allen Orlando Magic Portland Trail Blazers Quentin Richardson Ryan Anderso Stan Van Gundy