Orlando Magic @ Houston Rockets


The Orlando Magic got a big win on Sunday afternoon when they defeated the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers 101-95. Their next challenge? Another new-look team, this time the Houston Rockets. The Rockets acquired Guard Kevin Martin from the Sacramento Kings at the deadline while shipping former Magic Guard Tracy McGrady to New York and Forwards Joey Dorsey and Carl Landry to Sacramento. The Rockets also acquired Forward Hilton Armstrong from Sacramento, Forwards Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill from the Knicks as well the Knicks 2012 first round pick (top-5 protected) and the right to swap 2011 picks (top-1 protected).

These two teams met back on December 23rd at the Amway Arena – the Magic got off to a quick start and held on for a 102-87 victory.

The Magic have the NBA’s third-best record and would be the second seed in the Eastern Conference should the season end today. The Rockets are currently three games out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference.  The Rockets are 15-12 on the home floor while the Magic are 16-13 on the road. The Rockets have lost both games since their blockbuster trade, but don’t look into that much – they’re trying to get their new players adjusted to their lineup.

Tip-off from the Toyota Center in Houston is scheduled for 8:30 pm EST and you can see the game on FSN Florida. If you can’t watch the game, you can listen to it locally on WDBO AM 580 and in Spanish on WONQ AM 1030.

Current Rockets and former Magic Forward Trevor Ariza will miss at least the rest of this week with a hip pointer.

"Rockets guard Trevor Ariza will be out for the remainder of the week, missing games against the Magic, Spurs and Jazz, with a severe left hip pointer. He underwent an MRI on Monday and will be re-evaluated next week."

The Line: Orlando – 4



Dwight Howard
Rashard Lewis
Matt Barnes
Vince Carter
Jameer Nelson


Chuck Hayes
Luis Scola
Shane Battier
Kevin Martin
Aaron Brooks

The Magic beat the Rockets in December behind a strong first quarter, suffocating defense (Houston shot 39.0% from the field) and a dominating performance on the glass (Orlando outrebounded Houston 49-37). Orlando had  five players in double figures – Vince Carter led the way with 18 points.

Houston’s offense ranks 19th in offensive efficiency and although they do score 101.0 points per game, they played at a high pace and thought they need another scorer, which is why they added Martin.

Martin has seen the Magic once this season and he had a very poor showing. In 41 minutes, Martin scored just 5 points on 1-of-7 shooting back on January 22nd when he was a member of the Kings. He missed Sacramento’s first matchup with Orlando due to injury.

The Rockets didn’t fare much better in their game with Orlando. Luis Scola was effective at times but they only player who could consistently score was Carl Landry, who had 20 points in just 25 minutes, but he now plays for the Kings.

Speedy point guards like Aaron Brooks always seem to give the Magic trouble. Brooks is averaging 19.3 points per game and 5.1 assists per game.

The Magic currently have the league’s third most efficient defense.

Defensively, the Rockets rank 15th in efficiency and give up 100.9 points per game.

The Magic should be able to have some success inside because of Houston’s lack of size. Dwight Howard should have a clear advantage over any player the Rockets can throw at him. Howard only attempted seven shots (hitting five) and finished with just 13 points in Orlando’s first matchup with Houston, but he has been much more aggressive lately. He was still able to dominate the paint, grabbing 20 rebounds and blocking four shots.

Neither team has played since Sunday.

Orlando has a better team, will be pretty well-rested and the Rockets are still trying to figure out their rotation so if the Magic come out with good energy and effort, they should get a victory in a building that has not been kind to them in the past.

(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).