Houston Rockets @ Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic will try to bounce back after a lackluster performance in a 97-89 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday when they host the Houston Rockets Monday night.

Tip-off from the Amway Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST.

The game will be shown locally on Sun Sports and nationally on 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.

The officials for tonight’s game are Dan Crawford, Kane Fitzgerald and Scott Wall.

The Line: Orlando – 5.5 (197)

Starters:

Houston Rockets

Jordan Hill
Luis Scola
Chase Budinger
Kevin Martin
Kyle Lowry

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Ryan Anderson
Hedo Turkoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

Although its clearly a step down in competition from the Thunder, the Rockets are no pushover. They were 43-39 on the season and almost would have certainly qualified for the playoffs if they were in the east (The Pacers were the eighth seed with a record of 37-45). Plus, the Magic are playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Rockets have been one of the smallest teams in the league recently and spent their brief offseason trying to rectify the situation. They traded for Pau Gasol, but the deal was basically vetoed. Then, they signed Pau’s brother, Marc, to an offer sheet, but the Memphis Grizzlies matched the offer. They finally wound up with nine-year veteran Samuel Dalembert. Dalembert averaged 8.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game for the Kings last season.

The improvement of Jordan Hill, the eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft, will be key if the Rockets are going to reach the playoffs. He showed signs of improvement in the preseason, going 10-of-15 from the field and pulling down 21 rebounds in 50 total minutes.

Luis Scola is going to be a very tough matchup for Orlando’s power forwards, Ryan Anderson and Glen Davis. Scola has really improved his offensive game. He averaged a career-high 18.3 points per game last season.

The Magic will welcome former shooting guard Courtney Lee back to town.

With Lee, Dalembert, Patrick Patterson, Goran Dragic, Terrance Williams and rookie Marcus Morris on the bench, the Rockets have a pretty deep team.

If all that isn’t enough to get you to tune in, the halftime show will feature Dancing Santas!

Rockets Resources:

Clutch Fans
Red 94
Rockets Nation
The Dream Shake
Ultimate Rockets (Houston Chronicle)

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic Insider (http://ESPNFlorida.com) and is the co-host of the ESPNFlorida.com Insiders Show Sunday mornings at 10:00 am EST. Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him onTwitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)

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Tags: Chase Budinger Chris Duhon Courtney Lee Dwight Howard Earl Clark Glen Davis Goran Dragic Hedo Turkoglu J.j. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Jordan Hill Kevin Martin Kevin McHale Kyle Lowry Luis Scola Orlando Magic Quentin Richardson Ryan Anderson Samuel Dalembert Stan Van Gundy Von Wafer

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