defeated the Detroit Pistons on Friday night 116-91 defeated the Detroit Pistons on Friday night 116-91

Dallas Mavericks @ Orlando Magic


The Orlando Magic have won 11 of their last 14 games and defeated the Detroit Pistons on Friday night 116-91. To get their 12th win in 15 games, the Magic will have to overcome a much more difficult challenge when they play host to the new-look Dallas Mavericks on Friday night. The Mavericks made one of the biggest deals of the trade deadline when they sent Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler and cash considerations. The Magic were quiet on deadline day as General Manager Otis Smith kept repeating the same statement, “I like this team.”

After the deal, the Mavericks have been considered the Western Conference’s third-best team by many pundits and experts. Currently, the Mavericks have the fourthbest record in the west and the eighth best record in basketball. At 33-21, they are 1.5 games behind Utah for the third seed. The Magic have the third best record in the NBA and the second best record in the Eastern conference at 37-18 but they still trail the Cleveland Cavaliers by six games in the Eastern Conference.

Orlando has been excellent playing at Amway Arena – they are 21-5 on their home court. The Mavericks have been one of the league’s better road teams – they are 17-12 away from American Airlines Arena.

Tip-off from the Am scheduled for 8:00 pm EST and you can see the game on Sun Sports. You out-of-market fans are in luck because the game will be shown nationally by ESPN. You can also catch ESPN’s preview show, ESPN Shootaround, at 7:30 pm EST. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen to it locally on WDBO AM 580 and in Spanish on WONQ AM 1030.

It will be a special night in the Am because the Magic will be honoring former fan-favorite Darrell Armstrong.

The Line: Orlando – 6.5



Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
Vince Carter
Jameer Nelson


Brendan Haywood
Dirk Nowitzki
Shawn Marion
Caron Butler
Jason Kidd

It’s hard to say what the Mavericks are going to look like since they recently added two new starters to their team. The Mavericks are 1-1 since the deal was made. They lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 99-86 on Tuesday and came back to defeat the Phoenix Suns 107-97 on Wednesday night. Brendan Haywood has averaged 8.5 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per in those two games while Caron Butler has averaged 14.0 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game and 1.5 assists per game. Stevenson saw just five minutes on Tuesday and did not play on Wednesday.

The last time the Magic saw these players, Caron Butler was dominating in Orlando during the second half, leading the Wizards to a 21-point come-from-behind victory. Butler hit the game-winning jumper with .5 second to play. Butler finished with 31 points and nine rebounds. Haywood had five points and 10 boards.

Butler and Haywood each had big games back on January 8th when the Wizards defeated the Magic 104-97. In that game, Washington rallied from a 10-point deficit to win. Butler scored 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Haywood had 18 points and 15 rebounds in what was one of his best performances of the season.

The Mavericks have the 10th most efficient offense in the league and score 101.1 points per game. Dallas’ offense is once again led by nine-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki. The 2006-07 league MVP is scoring 24.7 points per game and grabbing 7.8 rebounds per game. The Magic, like most teams, have always had a very difficult time defending Nowitzki – he has averaged 23.4 points per game on 51.2% shooting and 8.4 rebounds per game in 20 games against Orlando. Nowitzki also shoots 51.2% against the Toronto Raptors but is not over 50% against any other team in the league.

Dallas’ defense hasn’t been bad, giving up 99.5 and ranking 12th in efficiency. It should improve with the addition of Haywood in the middle.

Dwight Howard should be able to get going – he’s averaged 21.5 points per game, 15.0 rebounds per game and 2.5 blocks per game against Haywood this year.

This is going to be a very tough test for the Orlando defense and it will be a good opportunity to see new-look Mavericks and how they are starting to gel now that it is their third game together.

The last time these two teams met in the Am, Magic Guard Jameer Nelson injured his shoulder and missed the rest of the 2008-09 season.

The Magic will be wearing their “Hardwood Classics” jerseys.

Center Erick Dampier of the Mavericks dislocated his right middle finger on Tuesday night and will miss three-to-five weeks.

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