Magic (26-14) vs. Lakers (31-9)
Time/TV: 10:30 p.m./TNT
Key Matchup: Dwight Howard (15.4 PPG, 15.2 RPG vs. Lakers in NBA Finals) vs. Pau Gasol (18.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG vs. Magic in NBA Finals)
-The Magic were given a painful reminder of their failure to bring home a title last year by practicing at the Lakers’ practice facility. But Stan Van Gundy emphasized tonight’s game against Los Angeles is not about vengeance for losing in the Finals, but rather about fixing Orlando’s current problems and inconsistencies.
-Step one to fixing the problems, stop thinking about last year. That is what Van Gundy wants the team to do. Plus Mickael Pietrus and Dwight Howard have a bet that Pietrus is doing everything he can to win.
-Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times writes that the Magic team coming to the Staples Center tonight is very different from the one that came in for the Finals last June. But despite the struggles Orlando has had, Pau Gasol and Los Angeles know to be ready for one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams.
-Luke Meredith of the Associated Press tells the story of the “Lucky Lakers” who survived an emergency landing in Iowa 50 years ago today as they returned to Minneapolis from a road game in St. Louis.
-Andrew Bynum is having a fine season, but as Phil Jackson tells Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily news, neither he nor Bynum is satisfied with where the young center is right now.
-It has been a long while since the Magic and Lakers last met, I talked with Kurt Helin of Forum Blue and Gold about how the Lakers have gone about defending their title. I also gave my thoughts on the Magic so far this season for him over at Forum Blue and Gold.
-Ben Q Rock of Orlando Pinstriped Post chats with Magic legend Dennis Scott to review the Magic’s season and preview tonight’s game.
-It is official, Dwight Howard will not compete in this year’s slam dunk competition at All Star Weekend. Gerald Wallace, the Lakers’ Shannon Brown and either DeMarr DeRozan or Eric Gordon will take on defending champion Nate Robinson in Dallas.
-Kobe Bryant is 30 points away from hitting 25,000 points and he seems pretty indifferent about it. At least that is what he tells Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times.
-John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com writes about how the reminders of Orlando’s Finals defeat in Los Angeles’ practice facility, where the Magic practiced the last two days, has restoked some fire in the team.
-For Phil Jackson it is hard to compare Dwight Howard to Andrew Bynum. As he tells Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, they are just different.