The Orlando Magic look to win their fourth straight game when they take on the New York Knicks Wednesday night. The ..."/> The Orlando Magic look to win their fourth straight game when they take on the New York Knicks Wednesday night. The ..."/>

Orlando Magic @ New York Knicks


The Orlando Magic look to win their fourth straight game when they take on the New York Knicks Wednesday night.

The Magic are now 45-26 and look all but assured of securing the fourth seed and hosting the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs. The Magic a 4.5 game lead on the Hawks with just 11 games to go.

It hasn’t gone nearly as well for the Knicks. New York blew a 14-point second half lead and fell to the Boston Celtics Monday night. It was New York’s sixth loss in their last seven games. They are now just 35-35 and have fallen into the seventh spot in the east behind the 36-34 Philadelphia 76ers.

These two teams have met twice this season, both times in Orlando.

Back on December 30th in Orlando, Dwight Howard had 24 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Magic to a 112-103 win. Seven Magic players scored in double figures and an eighth (Jason Richardson) had nine.

On March 1, the Magic rallied from an 11-point second half deficit to defeat the Knicks 116-110 behind Dwight Howard’s 30 points and 16 rebounds. Jameer Neson dominated in the fourth quarter and finished with 26 points. Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire each had 30 for the Knicks.

The Knicks rank second in pace (98.4), seventh in offensive efficiency (108.0) and 21st in defensive efficiency (106.7).

The game will be shown nationally on ESPN and locally on Sun Sports. 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 Madison Square Garden in New York, New York is scheduled for 8:00 pm EST.

The Line: Orlando – 1.5, 204u


New York Knicks

Ronny Turiaf
Amar’e Stoudemire
Carmelo Anthony
Landry Fields
Chauncey Billups

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Brandon Bass
Hedo Tukoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

J.J. Redick has missed six straight games and is questionable with an abdominal strain.

The officials will be Mike Callahan, Derek Richardson and  Tom Washington.

Of Note: The Knicks are now just 7-9 since acquiring Anthony and Billups. Dwight Howard is averaging 27 points and 17 rebounds per game against the Knicks this season. These two teams were supposed to square off on November 2 in New York but the game was postponed. They’ll make that game up March 28 (Monday). The Magic are 45-38 all time vs the Knicks and have won 12 of the last 14 meetings.

Opponent To Watch: Amar’e Stoudemire – Usually, we’d put Chauncey Billups here because of the way he’s haunted the Magic over the year but despite getting Bilups and Carmelo Anthony, Stoudemire still looks like he should be the main man in New York. Billups has been banged up (he was injured in New York’s March 1 loss to the Magic) and Anthony hasn’t been very inefficient. Stoudemire has scored 30 points in both games against the Magic and although he can’t battle with Howard in the paint and isn’t going to play lock down d, he’s been giving a very good effort this season and is a very potent offensive player. He’s shot 56.4% against the Magic this season.

The downside? Stoudemire has grabbed just six rebounds in two games with the Magic this season. He has to crash the glass for the Knicks to win.

What To Watch For: The Knicks play fast and score a lot of points but they really don’t play much defense. So far, that has allowed the Knicks to hang with teams (and against the Magic twice) but it hasn’t allowed them to win as many games as they’d like. Down the stretch against the Magic on March 1, the Knicks just couldn’t get any stops in the second half, allowing Orlando to score 69 second half points (New York scored 52). The Magic plan should be to pound the ball inside. Well, that should be the plan every game but especially in this case. New York is very weak inside and Howard should have another big day down low. The Magic can’t keep turning the ball over like they have or the Knicks will get out in transition and make them pay by getting easy buckets.

(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).