Los Angeles Lakers for the first time since the 2009 NBA Finals. You can..."/> Los Angeles Lakers for the first time since the 2009 NBA Finals. You can..."/>

Orlando Magic News & Notes: Finals Rematch

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The Orlando Magic will take on the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time since the 2009 NBA Finals. You can read about the game here.

Due to Orlando’s recent struggles, there isn’t as much hype for the matchup as expected.

"“Reminiscing usually means fond memories,” J.J. Redick said. “That wasn’t really fond … a bitter feeling.”The Magic meet the Lakers at Staples Center for the first time since L.A. beat them in the NBA Finals.The Lakers won it 4 games to 1 — and it looks as if they’ve put even more distance between themselves and the Magic. And everyone else.L.A. is a league-best 31-9, Bryant is the MVP front-runner and newly acquired Ron Artest has not become a distraction, except to opposing players.Meanwhile, going in the opposite direction lately, are the Magic.Orlando is (26-14) has lost six of its last eight games and is 9-10 since a 17-4 start. Not exactly the way to head into a Finals rematch and show the Lakers a thing or three, curled into the fetal position."

Brian Schmitz has the story here.

Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy would like his team to forget about last season.

"Coach Stan Van Gundy and SG Vince Carter agree that the team has to stop clinging to what it did last season en route to reaching the NBA Finals against tonight’s opponent, the Lakers.The Magic, 26-14 after 40 games this season, were 32-8 at this juncture last season.Van Gundy realizes players talk about it, but believes it leads to energy-sapping frustration and disappointment given the expectations heaped upon his team.“They got to get rid of the whole last-year thing,” Van Gundy said. “It’s been a negative. They compare what we did last year, but we got to make this team improve. We’re not playing against last year’s team. It’s not relevant. That drains enthusiasm.”Carter, acquired this offseason, has talked to some of the holdovers from last season who are stunned at the Magic’s recent struggles. “I’ve never been big on looking back,” he said. “We’re a different team.”"

Read this and other Magic notes here.

The Lakers expect the Magic to use their 2009 finals loss as motivation against the Lakers.

"But as soon as Gasol shared his reflections following Sunday’s practice, he cut himself short.“We can’t think of that [now]. This is a game we want to win. The Finals, the championship was there, but we can’t rely on how we played against them in the Finals.”That’s because Gasol assumes the Magic enters tonight’s game as angry as the Lakers were when they faced the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day and in February last season. Their 4-2 series win in the 2008 NBA Finals over the Lakers remained fresh on their mind.“We were really biting with that extra edge,” Gaosl said. I’m sure they will too.”"

Mark Medina has the story (and video) here.

Forum Blue & Gold previews the Magic-Lakers game here.

The Lakers Nation has their report here.

Ben Q. Rock caught up with former Magic sharpshooter and current analyst for NBA TV Dennis Scott.

"This might sound crazy coming from me, but the old saying about shooting the long-distance jump shot is, “you live by the jump shot, you die by the jump shot.” But the thing is, you have to have a comfortable mix of inside and out. Our team in 1995 had that, with Shaq and Penny and Nick [Anderson] posting up, of course later in his career Nick started shooting more three-pointers.I think the three-point shot is great for the game because it brightens the game, it speeds up the game, and it spreads out the defense for those guys that are able to be down low and call for a pass and command double-teams. That’s when you have two or three three-point shooters, and you can extend the game and make it more fun for players who want to play that style."

You can read the entire interview here.

As reported earlier, Dwight Howard will not participate in the slam dunk contest.

Dwight Howard paid homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Everything that I have been blessed with in my life, I owe it all to Dr. King. He fought for what was right in America and did it in a non-violent way. He brought about tremendous change by standing up for the beliefs of others who didn’t have a voice as strong as his.Last January I got to go to the inauguration of President Obama and I couldn’t help but think that that was the spot where Dr. King gave his famous speech. I still get chills thinking about it and every time I hear that speech it almost brings tears to my eyes. Growing up in A-T-L I got to hear plenty about Dr. King and his impact and I just want to use this day to say, “Thanks’’ to him."

Read Dwight’s blog here.

(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.)