New Jersey Nets @ Orlando Magic


The Orlando Magic defeated the New York Knicks Wednesday night to earn their fourth straight victory. They’ll look to make it five in a row when they host the New Jersey Nets Friday night.

The Magic are now 46-26 while the Nets, who had lost their last four games before defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime 98-94 Wednesday night.

These two teams have met three times this year and the Magic have won each game.

On November 5 in Orlando, the Magic dominated the Nets, earning a 105-90 victory. Dwight Howard had 30 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Magic.

They played again in New Jersey on November 13 and the Magic won 91-90 on Jameer Nelson’s go ahead basket with 4.1 seconds to play. Howard lead the team with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

In their last meeting, on December 27 in New Jersey, the Magic dominated the Nets again for a 104-88 victory. Hedo Turkoglu lead the Magic with 20 points.

Keep in my mind, these teams met only once after Orlando’s deals and the Magic have yet to see the Nets with Deron Williams (and they may not see him because of Williams’ right wrist injury).

The Nets rank 25th in pace (92.2), 27th in offensive efficiency (99.8) and 18th in defensive efficiency (105.7).

The game will be shown locally on Fox Sports Florida. 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 Amway Center is scheduled for 7:00 pm EST.

The Line: Orlando – 12.5, 188u


New Jersey Nets

Brook Lopez
Kris Humphries
Sasha Vujacic
Anthony Morrow
Deron Williams*
Jordan Farmar

Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard
Brandon Bass
Hedo Tukoglu
Jason Richardson
Jameer Nelson

*Turns out Williams will miss at least two more games per Colin Stephenson of the Star-Ledger.

Sundiata Gaines and (right hip) and Damion James (sore right foot) are out. Quinton Ross (strained lower back) will dress but is only available in emergency situations.

Josh Robbins reports J.J. Redick has had a setback in his recovery and will not play Friday night. He expects him to be ready for the postseason.

Update: Quentin Richardson is out with back spasms.

The officials will be Bill Spooner, Rodney Mott and Scott Wall.

Of Note: The Nets looked like they may be able to steal a playoff spot after acquiring one of the league’s elite players in Deron Williams. After a big win over Boston on March 14, the Nets lost four games in a row. They’re not eight games out of the postseason with just 12 games left. The Magic are 49-35 against the Nets and are 25-15 in Orlando. The Magic have defeated the Nets six straight times and have won 13 of their last 16. Ryan Anderson spent his rookie season (2008-09) with the Nets. Earl Clark is from New Jersey and played at Rahway High School in Rahway, New Jersey before heading to play college basketball for Rick Pitino at Louisville.

Opponent To Watch: Kris Humprhies, F – Humphries’ may be becoming nationally known because of his girlfriend but the power forward is becoming a nice player. He’s lead the Nets in rebounding in each of their last 12 games, including a 23-rebound game in the Nets win over the Cavaliers Wednesday night. He’s averaging 15.2 points, 16.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game over his last 10 games and is now averaging 9.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the season. He’s going to provide a nice challenge for Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson, especially if Dwight Howard gets into foul trouble.

Humphries is shooting 58.8% from the field against the Magic this season but hasn’t seen a lot of time (23.7 minutes per game) and is averaging 8.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in three games against the Magic this season.

What To Watch For: The Nets, who had the NBA’s worst record last year, are in for another poor season. After attempting to trade for Carmelo Anthony only to see him traded to the New York Knicks, the Nets went out and got an even better player in former Jazz point guard Deron Williams. Williams is one of the top point guards in the league and had the Jazz thinking playoffs. That, of course, won’t happen but if Williams can finish the season healthy, he can make life tough for a lot of teams, including the Magic. In two games with Utah, Williams is averaging 31.0 points and 11.5 assists per game against the Magic.

Williams is averaging 20.4 points and 10.1 assists per game on the season.

Orlando’s defense has looked better this season and outside of Williams, there aren’t any Nets who can consistently score. Brook Lopez is averaging 20.0 points per game this season but he’s been ineffective against Dwight Howard (14.0 points per game on 43.9% shooting in nine career games against the Magic).

(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).