After kicking off their road trip with a 104-97 win over the Sacramento Kings (a game in which Dwight Howard played just 17 minutes), the 6-3 Magic will look to make it two in a row when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night.
The Blazers have been excellent. They come in with a record of 7-2 and defeated Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers 105-97 Tuesday night.
The Blazers already hold wins over Philadelphia, Denver, Oklahoma City, the Los Angeles Lakers in addition to that win over the Clippers. Impressive to say the least.
The Magic are eighth in offensive efficiency (103.5) and 16th in defense (99.4). Portland is 13th in offense (101.0) and fourth in defense (94.9).
Tip-off from the the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon is scheduled for 10:00 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 Scott Foster, Karl Lane and Mark Lindsay.
The Line: Portland – 3.0 (190u)
Portland Trail Blazers
The usually slow Blazers shockingly are third in pace (98.1) while the Magic are 25th (91.4). That’s surprising for a Nate McMillan coached team. Clearly, Portland is going to try to get out and run while the Magic try to keep the game in the half court. Whichever style prevails will obviously have a huge impact on the game.
The Magic, despite being on a road trip, should have some advantages. Yes, the Rose Garden crowd is always fantastic, but the Blazers were taken to the wire by the Clippers Tuesday night, holding off a fourth quarter rally, while the Magic haven’t played since Sunday evening. Fatigue will be a factor for the Blazers.
Ryan Anderson’s defense has been criticized by Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy since the season began and now he’ll have the challenge of matching up with Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge enters the game averaging 22.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Glen Davis, who had his best game of the season Sunday, will also be called upon to slow Aldridge. Both Anderson and Davis have their work cut out for them.
Ditto for Hedo Turkoglu. He will be matched up with Gerald Wallace, who’s off to a great start. “Crash” is averaging 15.6 points per game and has been extremely efficient, shooting 53.0% from the floor. Jamal Crawford (12.3 ppg) and Wesley Matthews (15.9 ppg) can score and will really challenge Jason Richardson and J.J. Redick.
On the other side, Anderson’s ability to keep Aldridge out of the paint may help Orlando win the rebounding battle, which is something they have struggled with this season.
It will be interesting to see if Van Gundy goes back to Von Wafer. Sunday was the first time Wafer, outside of four minutes of garbage time against Washington, played since the second game of the year. Wafer scored 12 points on just seven shots in Orlando’s win over Sacramento.
Jameer Nelson had some success against Raymond Felton when Felton was with the Charlotte Bobcats. Nelson needs to be more aggressive Wednesday night because he’s shown he can score on Felton.
Dwight Howard will be matched up with Marcus Camby, who has been a very good defender over his career. Camby is 37 years old now so although he can present problems, the Blazers are going to have to throw other defenders at him so the other Blazers players will have to be extremely disciplined or the Magic are going to get great looks from the perimeter.
Six Blazers average double figures in scoring (Aldridge 22.1, Matthews 15.9, Wallace 15.6, Crawford 12.3, Felton 11.1 and Nicolas Batum 10.2).
If the Magic lose to another one of the league’s upper echelon, it reiterates Van Gundy’s point the Magic are “not on that level right now” while a gutty performance by the Blazers after playing a tough team Wednesday night would say a lot about where they are as a team.
(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)
Topics: Batum, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Gerald Wallace, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Kurt Thomas, Lamarcus Aldridge, Larry Hughes, Marcus Camby, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Portland Trail Blazers, Quentin Richardson, Raymond Felton, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Von Wafer, Wesley Matthews