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Injury-Riddled Magic Host Struggling Warriors
Posted Dec 22 2006 5:56PM
The Orlando Magic lead the Southeast Division thanks to tough defense, but aren't known for their scoring - something that could change with the Golden State Warriors coming to town.
The Magic (17-10) look to continue their home domination of the Warriors (13-14) when the teams meet Friday night for the first time this season.
Orlando is holding teams to 92.0 points per game, among the fewest in the NBA, and has given up more than 100 points just five times. The Magic rely heavily on that defensive effectiveness, as they're scoring only 92.5 points a contest and haven't broken 90 in eight straight games, including Wednesday's 86-83 win over New Orleans.
Orlando, though, has been much more efficient offensively against the Warriors at Amway Arena. The Magic have averaged 112.5 points in the last 13 matchups on their home court, winning 12 of those games.
They hope to continue that success against a Warriors team that is allowing a league-worst 105.9 points per game.
The Magic got another strong performance from Grant Hill to escape with the win Wednesday, as the forward scored 21 points for the second straight game - nearly six more than his season average.
Leading scorer Dwight Howard added 16 points and 13 rebounds for Orlando, which is looking for a third consecutive win following a stretch of one victory in six games.
The Magic went on a 17-3 fourth-quarter run against the Hornets, with Travis Diener scoring nine of his 13 points during that stretch, but Orlando was held to two points over the final five minutes as it barely held on.
``I didn't like our energy and our offensive execution (Wednesday), but I feel like we were fortunate to get out of it with a win,'' said Magic coach Brian Hill, whose team is 11-1 when holding opponents under 90 points.
The Warriors felt the same way Wednesday, nearly blowing a 14-point third-quarter lead before hanging on for a 96-95 victory over Boston.
Each time the Celtics got close, Warriors point guard Baron Davis answered, and he finished with 31 points on 11-of-16 shooting and eight assists.
``Baron just carried us again,'' coach Don Nelson said. ``He just again wouldn't let us lose tonight. The guy was a horse, a warrior.''
Davis helped the Warriors snap an eight-game losing streak on the road, where they are 2-9 and giving up 112.4 points. Golden State is 1-3 on its six-game trip.
``You just get tired of losing,'' Davis said. ``I just wanted to try to control the game as much as possible from the point guard standpoint.''
The Warriors snapped an overall three-game skid, holding an opponent to less than 100 points for the first time in seven games and for just the eighth time this season.
Golden State and Orlando split two meetings last season, with each winning on its home court. The Magic are concluding a three-game stretch at Amway Arena, where they are 10-4 this season.
Orlando may continue to be short-handed Friday, as Hedo Turkoglu missed his sixth straight game with a sprained ankle and Jameer Nelson sat out a fourth consecutive contest with a groin pull. Keith Bogans is also out with an ankle sprain.
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