Orlando Magic @ Charlotte Bobcats

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The Orlando Magic improved to 2-1 with a 94-78 win over the New Jersey Nets Thursday night. The Magic will look to extend their winning streak to three games when they take on the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night.

The Bobcats opened the season with a 96-95 win over the Milwaukee Bucks but dropped to 1-1 after a heartbreaking 96-95 loss to the Miami Heat Tuesday night.

Tip-off from the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST. 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.

The officials for tonight’s game are Derrick Stafford, Eric Dalen and and Violet Palmer.

The Line: Orlando – 4.5 (183.5)

Starters:

Charlotte Bobcats

Boris Diaw
D.J. White
Corey Maggette
Gerald Henderson
D.J. Augustin

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Ryan Anderson
Hedo Turkoglu
Jason Richardson
Chris Duhon

UPDATE: Orlando will be without starting point guard Jameer Nelson.

The Orlando Magic have dominated the Charlotte Bobcats as of late, winning 15 of the last 16 meetings between the two teams, including each of the last eight games between the two clubs. They also swept the Bobcats out of the 2010 postseason.

This season, the Bobcats have a different look about them. Gone are Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson. In are Corey Maggette and rookie Kemba Walker.

Although it has been just two games, Boris Diaw has been a pleasant surprise for the Bobcats. He’s averaging 12.5 points per game and his current average of 13.5 rebounds per game ranks him third in the NBA (Dwight Howard is second). Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin have carried the scoring load (19.5 points per game each) while Walker has provided a spark and showed flashes of being a very good scorer (13.5 points per game in just 20.5 minutes per game).

With Dwight Howard manning the middle, he should be able to force the Bobcats to take difficult shots from outside of the paint. Although, the Bobcats have capable shooters, they’re not exactly the most efficient shooters. Maggette’s inefficient shot selection has been discussed for years and Walker took a lot of tough shots at Connecticut, so I’d expect the Magic to be able to force him into several bad shots.

Even though Diaw has played well, Charlotte has no one that should be able to put up a fight against Howard – they don’t have as many big, solid, defensive bodies to throw at Howard as they did during the 2010 playoffs when they frustrated the Magic big man throughout the series. They’ll have to use their fouls wisely this time around instead of constantly hacking Howard.

The Magic’s bench production has been very good in their two wins with J.J. Redick, Glen Davis and yes, even, Chris Duhon leading the way. If they can keep up their production and the Magic starters keep moving the ball and getting good shots, the Magic should earn a comfortable victory.

Bobcats Resources:

Bobcats Baseline
Bobcats Planet
Charlotte Observer
Queen City Hoops
Roberto Gato
Rufus On Fire

(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: Bismack Biyombo Boris Diaw Charlotte Bobcats Chris Duhon Corey Maggette D.J. Augustin D.J. White Dwight Howard Gerald Henderson Glen Davis Hedo Turkoglu J.j. Redick Jameer Nelson Jason Richardson Kemba Walker Larry Hughes Orlando Magic Quentin Richardson Ryan Anderson

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