Orlando Magic @ Minnesota Timberwolves

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The Orlando Magic, thanks to a 117-92 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, moved back into first place in the Southeast Division. The Magic look to start their three-game road trip with a victoy. The Timberwolves lost to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.

After a lengthy homestand, the Magic hit the road, starting in Minnesota. The Magic played seven of their last eight games at home and went 6-2 during that stretch (6-1 at home). The T-Wolves enter the game with a record of 7-26 while the Magic are 23-8. Minnesota is 4-13 at home. Orlando is 10-5 on the road.

Tip-off from the Target Center in Minnesota is set for 8:00 pm EST and the game will be shown by Sun Sports. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can hear it locally on WDBO 580 AM and in Spanish on WONQ AM 1030.

The Line: Orlando -8

Starters:

Orlando

Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
Vince Carter
Jameer Nelson

Minnesota

Al Jefferson
Kevin Love
Damien Wilkins
Corey Brewer
Jonny Flynn

Orlando is 16-1 against sub-.500 teams this season and their next five opponents are sub -.500.

Orlando will be play their next three games and eight of their next 10 games on the road. They have lost three straight road games.

Minnesota has been playing better lately. After starting the season 1-15 (and 3-21), the T-Wolves are 7-26.

Minnesota has one of the worst offenses in the NBA. They score 95.0 points per game and have just one regular play average more than 14.2 points per game (Al Jefferson, 17.3). Kevin Love is averaging 15.0 points per game and 12.7 rebounds per game but has played in just 15 games.

Al Jefferson is once again carrying the load for the Wolves. Although he may be better known to the general public for being the key piece in the Kevin Garnett trade, but he has had an excellent career. He is putting up solid numbers – 17.3 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game – but these numbers are way down from what he did in the last two season. In the 2007-2008, he averaged a career-high 21.0 points per game and 11.2 rebounds per game. Last season, he upped his scoring average to 23.2 points per game and still grabbed 10.9 rebounds per game. He shoots 50% from the field in ’07-’08 and 49.7% in ’08-’09, but is shooting just 47.6%, a career-low, this season.

Rookie Point Guard Jonny Flynn has been overshadowed by classmates and fellow point guards Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans, but he is having an excellent rookie season. Flynn is scoring 14.2 points per game on 43.4% shooting and has started in all 33 games. The only other T-Wolve to play in every game is former Florida Gator Corey Brewer, who is scoring 12.1 points per game.

Ryan Gomes has started 24 games, but has a bum ankle and was replaced in the lineup by Damien Wilkins. Magic fans should remember that name because he is the son of former Magic player Gerald Wilkins and the nephew of former Magic player Dominique Wilkins.

Minnesota is a decent rebounding rate. They are nearly dead even with their opponents (Minnesota averages 43.7 rebounds per game while their opponents grab 43.8%).

Minnesota’s defense is more efficient than their offense, but not by much. They give up 104.9 points per game and rank 24th in efficiency.

The Timberwolves also have the fourth worst turnover rate in the NBA. Compare that with the Magic, who are very concerned about their turnover situation and rank 15th in turnover rate.

The Wolves have had some problems with sticking with outside shooters. They collapse on players in the paint and allow their opponents to make 7.3 3-pointers per game. If the Magic can establish Dwight Howard or get penetration from Vince Carter, it could be a big night for the Magic.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)