Coming off of a big win over the Miami Heat, the Orlando Magic will attempt to defeat another division rival when they host the Atlanta Hawks Friday night. The Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak with a home win over the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night. One game separates the Hawks (17-9) and the Magic (16-10).
The Magic rank 15th in offensive rating (103.2), 13th in defensive rating (101.7) and play at the league’s six-slowest pace (89.3). The Hawks are 11th in offensive rating (104.7), eighth in defensive rating (99.4) and play at the 21st-fastest pace (90.0).
Tip-off from the Amway Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST and 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 FM 96.5 and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.
The officials for tonight’s game are Ed Malloy, Kane Fitzgerald and Scott Twardoski.
The Line: Orlando – 4.0 (183u)
The Atlanta Hawks 17-9 record wouldn’t be a surprise if they didn’t spend a majority of the season playing without Kirk Hinrich and Al Horford. Hinrich has played in just eight games while Horford has played in just 11 games because of a torn pectoral muscle.
Jeff Teague, Atlanta’s 2009 first round pick, has done a nice job replacing Hinrich and has remained the starter despite Hinrich’s return. Teague is putting up 12.3 points and 5.0 assists per game and is shooting a very impressive 44.7% from beyond the arc.
With Horford and Jason Collins (elbow) out, it should be another big night for Dwight Howard. Howard struggled against the Hawks’ length during the 2010-11 regular season before having a huge series, including a 46-point game one in the postseason. Zaza Pachulia can bother opposing bigs, but is no match for Howard. The Hawks signed veteran Erick Dampier to a 10-day contract yesterday.
Orlando’s offense has been much better lately but the way they were playing before the last few games combined with the way the Hawks defended the Magic last season, there is cause of concern. Of course, without Collins and Horford, not only will life be easier for Dwight Howard, but for the rest of the Magic as well. We’ll see Josh Smith at the Four when he spent a lot of time at the Three starting alongside Collins and Horford in the playoffs last season. The Hawks do still have a lot of length with Marvin Williams and former Magic great Tracy McGrady, but not nearly as much muscle.
(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: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Ish Smith, Ivan Johnson, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Collins, Jason Richardson, Jeff Teague, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Kirk Hinrich, Larry Drew, Larry Hughes, Marvin Williams, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Tracy Mcgrady, Von Wafer, Willie Green, Zaza Pachulia