Orlando Magic Week 13 Preview: The Wake Up Call
The Magic (29-15) started off the week the same way they ended last season, losing a close one to the Los Angeles Lakers. This time, however, there was not an NBA Title on the line.
The Lakers took control early on in the game, but Orlando wouldn't go down easy. Outscoring LA 21-12 in the third quarter, the Magic took the lead by as much as nine points before the Lakers finished them off in the fourth.
In the 98-92 Lakers win, Pau Gasol played strong, finishing with 17 points and 10 boards. Shannon Brown came up big with 22 points of his own.
Dwight Howard led Orlando with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks on the night. Vince Carter shot only 3-8 from three and 0-3 for two, looking uninterested in trying to move the ball. He finished with nine points.
On Wednesday night the Magic returned to Orlando to exact some revenge on the Indiana Pacers. They did just that with a 109-98 victory. The Magic led by as much as 29 in the game, never giving up the lead.
Dwight Howard exploded for 32 points, 11 boards, and four steals. Matt Barnes came up with 16 rebounds of his own to go with 10 points and six assists. Danny Granger's 25 points was the lone bright spot for the Pacers.
Staying at home on Friday night, Orlando handed the Sacramento Kings a loss in grand fashion. Leading by 32 at one point, the Magic came out with 100-84 win.
Howard continued his dominance, with 19 points and 15 rebounds. The Kings were largely held in check with the exception of Tyreke Evens, who finished with 19 points of his own. Kevin Martin was held to only five points and continues to struggle since returning from injury.
Off to Charlotte for Saturday night's game against the red-hot Bobcats, the Magic continued to play with intensity. After mounting a comeback in the fourth quarter, Charlotte forced overtime with a 92-92 tie.
Orlando lit the Bobcats up in OT, scoring 14 and allowing only three. The Magic wound up finishing the game with a 106-95 win.
Jameer Nelson had six points in extra time to finish with 21 for the game. Dwight Howard grabbed an impressive 20 rebounds to go with 10 points. DJ Augustin scored 22 off the bench for Charlotte.
Getting of to a poor start against the Lakers proved to be just the wake up call the Magic needed. Orlando will need the success to continue in the tough week ahead. Take a look.
Monday, Jan. 25 @ Memphis Grizzlies (23-19)
The Memphis Grizzlies have turned out to be one of the surprise teams of the NBA season.
After starting out 1-8 this year, cutting ties with Allen Iverson, and getting things back on track, the Grizz have become a pretty decent team. Winning 13 of their last 17, Memphis is creeping into the playoff picture in the West.
Zach Randolph has played a huge role in the turn around, averaging 20.9 points and 11.4 rebounds a game. Randolph is having an All-Star year and would be a shoe-in if he played in the East.
Marc Gasol continues to develop in the frontcourt and is rounding into a quality big man. Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo are playing the wins about as good as any duo in the league today.
With Mike Conely playing his role at point guard, the Memphis starting five has a bright future ahead. So good, in fact, that the team is reportedly shopping around their lottery pick, Hasheem Thabeet. If the Grizz had used that No. 2 overall pick on Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, or even Jonny Flynn, there is no telling how good this team would be.
The Magic will have to rely on their depth in this one, playing consistent defense and running a fast paced offense. Dwight Howard can take advantage of the soft Memphis bigs.
Thursday, Jan. 28 Vs. Boston Celtics (28-13)
The Celtics and Magic have split their two matchups thus far, with the road team winning both times. That bodes well for the visiting Celtics, who have lost five of their last eight games.
A major factor in Boston's struggles has been Kevin Garnett's absence. KG missed 10 straight games, returning in Friday's win over Portland.
The C's have relied heavily on their young point guard, Rajon Rondo. Averaging 14.1 points, 9.6 assists, and 2.5 steals a game, Rondo is becoming a team leader for Boston. Rondo received an All-Star snub by voters, losing out to Allen Iverson as the starting PG.
The Celtics will need Kevin Garnett to play to his abilities, as Rasheed Wallace has struggled a bit. Wallace has only one game this year with over 20 points, his 29 point game against the pitiful Toronto defense. Paul Peirce continues to be the focal point of the offense for Boston, putting up 18.8 points a game.
Expect another low scoring defensive battle between these two teams. I'd like to see Matt Barnes fly under the radar and come up big for Orlando in this game.
Saturday, Jan. 30 Vs. Atlanta Hawks (28-14)
The Atlanta Hawks have taken a slight lead over Orlando in the Southeast Division. All of that could change after this game. Though Atlanta has won seven of their last nine games, the Magic have won their last two against the Hawks.
Joe Johnson continues to go unnoticed around the league, even with 21.1 points a night. Johnson is another player that probably deserved an All-Star nod over Allen Iverson.
Al Horford is quietly becoming one of the most effective big men in the East, with 13.9 points and 9.8 rebounds a game. Throw in Josh Smith and Marvin Williams and the Hawks are grabbing a ton of boards.
The Hawks have benefited from a nice balance of young stars playing hard on both sides of the ball. With Jamal Crawford providing spectacular production off the bench, Atlanta has become a serious contender in the East.
Orlando will try to hold off the Hawks and regain the lead in the Southeast Division. The Magic bigs will have to take advantage of holes in Al Horford's game.
Sunday, Jan. 31 @ Detroit Pistons (15-28)
After dropping 13 straight games, Detroit has gotten back to reality, winning four of their last seven. Even with the reversal of fortune, the Pistons remain near the bottom of the league.
Part of the reason for Detroit's woes is the lack of desired production from free-agent acquisitions Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Both players are putting up modest numbers, but not the type the Pistons were looking for.
Playing better than imagined is Rodney Stuckey. With 18.3 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.3 rebounds a game, Stuckey is becoming a very reliable point guard.
Richard Hamilton leads the team with 19.4 points a game. He, along with Tayshaun Prince, is a name coming up in trade rumors across the league. Detroit is ready to cut their losses and start planning for the future.
Orlando will welcome this favorable road matchup as the Magic look to improve on their road struggles of late. Look for Orlando to take advantage of size mismatches to control the game.