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Orlando Magic News & Notes: Eastern Conference Heavyweights Clash

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The Orlando Magic gave one of their most complete efforts when they dominated the Chicago Bulls 107-87 on Wednesday night. The Magic have no time to celebrate that victory. They must turn right around and take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night. You can read more about Thursday’s matchup with Cleveland here.

Brian Schmitz agrees that the win was nice but the Magic must quickly forget about it.

"The Magic face James and the league-leading Cleveland Cavs tonight, coming off an easier-than-expected 107-87 victory against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night at United Center.The game against King James and Shaq could well be another playoff preview. The game against the Bulls — if you want to label it that — resembled an exhibition."

You can read that story here.

George Diaz says there is only one thing that can validate Vince Carter – a championship.

"Winning solves everything, and silences a lot of questions about Van Gundy’s temper, Howard’s inexplicable disappearance in some games, and Carter’s inability to find a bouncy rhythm in his jump shot.It’s been a bumpy transition. The difficulty in adjusting to a guy accustomed to taking 20-plus shots a game is understandable. A shooter needs his fix every night. Carter is bound to keep jacking up shots because it’s in his DNA. The results will tell us if he is an idiot or a genius.Winning validates a lot of things for a lot of people: Magic GM Otis Smith gets a big thumbs-up for making a risky move and shaking up the lineup. Carter gets kudos for sacrificing ego for victories. Howard can thank him for taking much of the pressure off him."

Read that story here.

Bulls Forward Tyrus Thomas has plenty of suitors. Adrian Wojnarowski has the story here. The Magic, who are not mentioned in this story, have been rumored to have had trade discussions with Chicago.

Maybe there is a good reason they aren’t mentioned – Otis Smith likes his team the way it is.

"Magic GM Otis Smith has bad news for all those fans who might dream of the club renting a Chris Bosh or a Carlos Boozer for the stretch run to a possible title shot.Smith said Wednesday that he has no plans to trade for a star player who is in the last year of his contract. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 18.“The only way you think about that is if you have injuries,” Smith said.Smith reiterated that he isn’t planning on making any trades.Bosh, power forward for the Toronto Raptors, and Boozer, power forward for the Utah Jazz, can be free agents this summer and seen as likely candidates to leave their current teams.Asked if he thought the Magic were good enough to return to the Finals again, he said, “I do. I like our team.”"

Read this and other Magic notes here.

John Hollinger lists Magic Power Forward Brandon Bass among his biggest disappointments. If you’re an ESPN Insider, you can read that story here.

Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer discusses Cleveland’s shuffled lineups.

"“Mo [Williams] is out,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said of his starting point guard, out with a sprained left shoulder. “Then we’ve had a little bit of time together to get a feel for what we can do with Shaq [O’Neal] when he’s on the floor. They were missing a key piece in Rashard Lewis [NBA suspension]. They’re a different team now than what we faced back then.“It should be an interesting ball game for both of us.”LeBron James is looking forward to Thursday’s game — the last before the All-Star break — especially with his team riding a 12-game winning streak.“They’re coming into our building and right now we’re the best team in the NBA,” James said. “We’re looking forward to that challenge. It is going to be fun. I think it will be a good challenge for both teams. You want to go into the All-Star Break with a win.”"

You can read that here.

Bud Shaw, also of the Plain Dealer talks about Cleveland’s challenger in the east and discusses Thursday night’s matchup.

"After his 48 the other night, the Magic gave Carter the game ball. It’s not common practice during the regular season and it smacks of artificially trying to lift Carter up in hopes he’ll begin to meet expectations.Will he be that player again Thursday? For Orlando’s sake he needs to be, because they lost a player in Turkoglu who made others around him better.The Cavs are distancing themselves from everybody in the East during this homestand. Shaquille O’Neal, who once called Howard an “impostor,” has been unusually polite in assessing the Cavaliers’ competition in his first season here.Maybe his teeth are chattering too much to say much. Or he’s saving that word for the right time and the team that it now appears to fit most appropriately — the Celtics."

You can read that 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.)