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The Orlando Magic will try to bounce back from what must hav..."/>

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Orlando Magic


The Orlando Magic will try to bounce back from what must have been a rather embarrassing home loss to the Sacramento Kings Wednesday when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night.

The Thunder are coming off a loss to the NBA’s best team, the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night and are now 36-20 on the season. That record is good for first in the Northwest division and fourth in the west overall. The Magic are 36-22, which is also good for fourth in their conference.

These two teams met earlier this season and what might have been one of the most exciting games of the year.The Thunder rode Russell Westbrook’s triple double (32 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds) and Kevin Durant’s 36 points to a 125-124 victory. Dwight Howard had 39 points and 18 rebounds and the Magic hit 14 three-pointers but it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor defensive performance.

The Thunder will be short-handed after pulling off a couple of deals just before Thursday’s trade deadline. They sent D.J. White and and Morris Peterson to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Nazr Mohammed and made a big splash by shipping Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic to the Boston Celtics for Nate Robinson and Kendrick Perkins.

The Thunder are 12th in pace (93.1), sixth in offensive rating (110.7) and 16th in defensive rating (108.1).

The game will be shown locally on FSN Florida and nationally by ESPN. As always, if you can’t watch the game, you can listen on the radio – in English on AM 580 WDBO and in Spanish on AM 1270 WRLZ.

Tip off from the the Amway Center is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST.

The Line: Orlando -6.5 (-110), 205u


Oklahoma City Thunder

Serge Ibaka
Nick Collison
Kevin Durant
Thabo Sefolosha
Russell Westbrook

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Brandon Bass
Hedo Tukoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

Daniel Orton (left knee surgery) is out indefinitely.

Kendrick Perkins is out with a strained left MCL.

The officials will be Monty McCutchen, Mark Ayotte and Kevin Cutler.

Opponent To Watch: Serge Ibaka, F/C – We all got a great look at Ibaka during Saturday’s dunk contest when the Congo native dunked from the free throw line but he’s more than just a leaper. Ibaka’s not much of a threat on offense and his numbers (9.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game) won’t blow you away but the big man has shown signs of becoming a much better player. He did it again in Wednesday’s loss to th Spurs when he dropped 10 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. With the Thunder missing their ol starting center (Kristic) and their new starting center (Perkins), Ibaka is going to need a performance similar to that to at least try to establish something inside offensively and attempt to try to slow down Dwight Howard defensively.

What To Watch For: Even though the Thunder are outmanned, I’d expect this to be a high scoring, entertaining game. With the way Orlando’s perimeter players have defended, Westbrook and Durant could each be in for another huge night like they had the first time these teams met on January 13. The Magic should be able to put some points up despite the way they have been shooting. The Thunder shouldn’t have much of answer for Howard on either end of the floor.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and ESPN 1080’s Magic Insider ( Subscribe to his RSS feed, add him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter to follow him daily. You can download the HTD app here).