The Orlando Magic lost for the fourth consecutive time when they were defeated by the Detroit Pistons Tuesday night, a loss that dropped them to fifth in the east. They’ll look to start to move back up in the standings when they host the New York Knicks Thursday night. Despite 39 points from Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks blew a 17-point second half lead and lost to the Indiana Pacers 112-104 Tuesday night. That win by Indiana actually helped give them their one-game lead on the Magic for the three-spot and dropped the Knicks to 27-27 on the season. New York has a one-game lead on the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth seed. The Magic enter with a record of 32-22.
These two teams met on Martin Luther King Day in New York and the Magic rallied behind a career-high 30 points from Ryan Anderson for a 102-93 victory. They squared off again last Wednesday and the Knicks destroyed the Magic 108-86.
The Magic rank 16th in offensive rating (104.7), 10th in defensive rating (103.0) and play at the league’s fifth-slowest pace (89.3). The Knicks are 21st in offensive rating (103.0), fourth in defensive rating (100.4) and play at the league’s third-fastest pace (93.8).
Tip-off from the Amway Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST. The game will be shown nationally on TNT.
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 Bill Kennedy, Mark Lindsay and Gary Zielinski.
The Line: Orlando – 3.5 (189u)
New York Knicks
*The Magic were without their three best players, Dwight Howard (back spasms), Ryan Anderson (sprained right ankle) and Jameer Nelson (sore left calf), in Tuesday’s loss to the Detroit Pistons. All three players are listed as day-to-day. Anderson will almost certainly miss the game.
Update: Anderson is out. Howard and Nelson will go.
The Knicks will again be without Jared Jeffries (right knee inflammation), Jeremy Lin (left knee surgery), Amar’e Stoudemire (bulging disc in back) and Bill Walker (left elbow surgery).
The Knicks have been hit by the injury bug worse than any team in the league as of late, but the Magic appear poised to give them a run for their money. The Knicks will be without Stoudemire and Lin again and the Magic didn’t have their three best players – Anderson, Howard and Nelson in their loss to the Pistons Tuesday night, and they could be without them again Thursday.
Center Tyson Chandler has helped turn the Knicks into one of the elite defensive teams in the league – they are fourth in defensive rating. Chandler is averaging 11.2 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.52 blocks per game this season. He also helped hold Howard to just 12 points and five rebounds in their last meeting and eight points and 10 rebounds in the first.
Despite his rough season, Carmelo Anthony has averaged 29.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game in two meetings with the Magic this season. Anthony has shot just 42.9% in those games, but was fantastic on March 28, putting up 25 points on 15 shots.
The Knicks’ small lineup, with Anthony at the Four, caught the Magic a little off guard last time and Stan Van Gundy should have his team better prepared this time around. If the Magic are missing Ryan Anderson and Dwight Howard again, they’ll go small themselves and will probably match up better with the Knicks than it did with the Pistons because Hedo Turkoglu would be matched up with Anthony.
There’s no denying the Magic were absolutely embarrassed just over a week ago in New York – their effort was almost laughable. Co-captain Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, who has struggled recently, were very upset with the result and the team’s other captain, Dwight Howard, mentioned playing the Knicks again. It will be interesting to see how the team reacts. The last time they were embarrassed like this, an 87-56 loss to the Celtics in Boston, they responded well early in the rematch that occurred just three days later, building a 27-point lead over the Celtics, but were dominated in the second half and were defeated 91-83.
(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 on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here)
Topics: Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard, Glen Davis, Hedo Turkoglu, Iman Shumpert, Ish Smith, J.j. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Landry Fields, Larry Hughes, Mike Dantoni, Mike Woodson, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Otis Smith, Quentin Richardson, Ryan Anderson, Stan Van Gundy, Toney Douglas, Tyson Chandler, Von Wafer