The Orlando Magic increased their winning streak to five games with a victory over the New Jersey Nets Friday. They’ll try to extend that streak to six by beating the New York Knicks for the second time in less than a week.
The Magic have improved to 47-26 while the Knicks have lost six in a row and nine of their last 10 to drop to just 35-38.
On Wednesday, the Magic used a dominate second half to come from behind and defeat the Knicks 111-99. Orlando outscored the Knicks 56-40 in the second half. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 33 points and 11 rebounds while Carmelo Anthony had 24 to lead the Knicks.
Back on December 30th in Orlando, Dwight Howard had 24 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Magic to a 112-103 win. Seven Magic players scored in double figures and an eighth (Jason Richardson) had nine.
On March 1, the Magic rallied from an 11-point second half deficit to defeat the Knicks 116-110 behind Dwight Howard’s 30 points and 16 rebounds. Jameer Neson dominated in the fourth quarter and finished with 26 points. Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire each had 30 for the Knicks.
The Knicks rank second in pace (98.0), seventh in offensive efficiency (107.8) and 23rd in defensive efficiency (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 Madison Square Garden in New York, New York is scheduled for 7:30 pm EST.
The Line: Orlando – 2.5, 206.5u
New York Knicks
*Ronny Turiaf has been bothered by a sore ankle and missed New York’s loss to Charlotte Saturday. He’s listed as questionable. If he can’t go, Stoudemire will slide to center and Shawne Williams will start.
**Toney Douglas got the start for Landry Fields Saturday but played just 15 minutes. Fields played 34.
J.J. Redick is still bothered abdominal strain and is will be out again. Quentin Richardson (back spasms) is also out. Jameer Nelson is listed as day-to-day with a sprained left knee but it looks like he will be out as well.
The officials will be Dick Bavetta, John Goble and Leon Wood.
Of Note: The Knicks have dropped to 7-12 since acquiring Carmelo Anthony. Their defense has been absolutely. In fact, in the three games New York has played since HtD’s last Magic-Knicks preview was written, the Knicks dropped from 21st to 23rd in defensive efficiency. After being defeated by the Magic Wednesday, the Knicks allowed the league’s worst offense, the Milwaukee Bucks, to score 102 points, then allowed another offensively challenged team, the Charlotte Bobcats, to score 114 points. Orlando has won 13 of their 15 games against the Knicks.
Opponent To Watch: Chauncey Billups, G – Billups has traditionally given the Magic a lot of trouble and that includes a 30-point outing in a loss on March 1. Billups, has, however really struggled to defend Jameer Nelson over the last couple of seasons. With Nelson hobbled by a left knee sprain, Billups’ job will be a lot easier. He won’t have nearly as tough of an assignment on defense, which should help him be more effective on offense. Billups is averaging 16.7 points and 5.3 assists per game this season.
What To Watch For: The Knicks have been awful lately. They’ve been pretty inefficient on offense and have been absolutely dreadful on defense. With Redick, Richardson and Nelson out, we will see a lot of Gilbert Arenas and Chris Duhon, which is clearly not what the Magic would like to do. Hedo Turkoglu is going to have to handle the ball more than usual and continue to play well. If Turkoglu is smart with the ball and the Magic feed the ball to Dwight Howard enough, there is no reason they can’t win this game even with all of their injuries.
(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).
Topics: Amar’e Stoudemire, Brandon Bass, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy