After defeating the New Jersey Nets Wednesday, the Magic look to make it three straight wins when they talk on the Atlanta Hawks Thursday night. The short-handed Hawks were blown out by the New York Knicks Wednesday, dropping their record to 19-14. The Magic are 22-12.
These two teams met in Orlando February. The Magic rallied to send the game to overtime, but the Hawks held on for an 89-87 victory.
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 Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia is scheduled for 7:30 pm EST and will be shown locally on FS Florida.
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 Eddie F. Rush, Brent Barnaky and Courtney Kirkland.
The Line: Orlando -4.0 (177u)
J.J. Redick Jason Richardson*
Jameer Nelson Chris Duhon**
*Jason Richardson will return to the lineup.
**Jameer Nelson has been scratched with a knee injury.
Since the Hawks defeated the Magic on February 10, these two teams have gone in difference directions. Atlanta has lost five of their last six games while the Magic have won six out of their last seven games.
The Hawks won’t be the same this time around. Not only are they still missing Al Horford, but now, Joe Johnson (left knee tendinitis) missed Wednesday’s game and will not play Thursday against the Magic (He’s also out of the three-point shootout and the All-Star game). Willie Greene will fill in for Johnson – he’s averaging 7.3 points per game and had 16 points against the Knicks Wednesday.
Jason Collins (sprained left eblow) is also out. Marvin Williams (9.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing Monday’s loss to Chicago because of “personal reasons.” He missed all six shots he attempted and was held scoreless. Williams and former Magic star Tracy McGrady (6.4 ppg, 17.6 mpg) have been upset with their playing time.
The Magic have had a lot of trouble scoring against the Hawks and that includes their dismal performance in their first round playoff loss last season. If the Hawks continue to defend Orlando well, we could have a really ugly game. With Johnson out, it’s tough to see where the scoring is going to come from.
Many were upset when Josh Smith was left off of the All-Star team and although he’s having his best season (16.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.13 bpg), he’s still really struggled shooting the ball. In fact, Smith might be having the worst shooting season of his career – his true shooting percentage of 48.6% is the lowest of his career while his effective field goal percentage of 46.8% is his lowest since the 2007-2008 season. He’s also shooting just 28.1% from beyond the arc.
Jameer Nelson spearheaded Orlando’s late run in the first meeting between the two teams. Matched up with the likes of Jeff Teague and Kirk Hinrich, Nelson needs to be more consistent throughout the game, something he’s done a good job of lately.
(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