The Magic are reeling, having lost five of their last six games with each loss coming in embarrassing fashion. Their record, which was once 11-4, now stands at just 12-9. The Wizards are just 4-17, fired head coach Flip Saunders and are coming off a blowout loss against the Chicago Bulls.
These two teams met back on January 4 when the Magic cruised to a 103-85 victory behind 28 points and 20 rebounds from Dwight Howard.
The Magic enter the game ranked 19th in offensive efficiency (101.7), 11th in defensive efficiency (101.3) and play at the league’s fifth slowest pace (89.2). The Wizards are last in offense (94.8) and 23rd in defense (104.9). They play at the league’s fourth-fastest pace (93.7).
Tip-off from the the Amway Center 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, Tommy Nunez Jr. and Scott Wall.
The Line: Orlando – 10.0 (182.5u)
*Andray Blatche (calf) is out 3-5 weeks.
**Jason Richardson’s knee injury will keep him out again.
***Jameer Nelson will be out until at least February 6 (concussion-like symptoms).
This should be a chance for the Magic to build a little confidence and begin to get back on track. However, this Magic team hasn’t shown signs of beating anyone as of late.
“We’re not going to win with that defense,” Stan Van Gundy said following Sunday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers.
The offense has been even worse. Just over two weeks ago, the Magic were the second most efficient offense in the league, but they’ve dropped all the way to 19th in offensive efficiency and have been held to less than 70 points in three of their last six games.
If Howard is on his game, he should be able to dominate the Wizards like he did in their first matchup when he scored 28 points and grabbed 23 rebounds.
Ryan Anderson, who’s really struggled shooting the ball lately, torched the Wizards for 23 points in the first meeting and could do it again. Starting power forward Andray Blatche is out so Anderson will likely see rookie forwards Jan Vesely and former Florida State player Chris Singleton. It’d make sense to use Singleton to chase Anderson out on the perimeter. Although Singleton was a first round pick because of his defense, Anderson should be able to take advantage of the rookies. Singleton will also see time on Hedo Turkoglu and Orlando’s other wings.
With Jameer Nelson still out (and even if he was in), it’s going to be tough for Chris Duhon and Larry Hughes to stick with John Wall. The quick-footed Wall could be in for a big night.
The Dwight Howard situation is clearly in their heads. They’re going to continue to deny it, but it’s becoming clear the situation is bothering Howard’s teammates. They’re going to need to overcome those problems and get their heads on straight or they could suffer their most embarrassing defeat yet.
(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger, ESPN Florida’s Magic and NBA 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: Andray Blatche, Chris Duhon, Chris Singleton, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jan Vesely, Jason Richardson, Javale Mcgee, John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Larry Hughes, Maurice Evans, Nick Young, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Quentin Richardson, Rashard Lewis, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Von Wafer, Washington Wizards