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HORNETS VS. MAGIC
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
January 12, 2011

Two teams whove made major roster shakeups through trades meet for the first time during the 2010-11 regular season. The Hornets and Magic are scheduled to wrap up their annual two-game series almost exactly one month from now, squaring off Feb. 11 in Orlando.

Since New Orleans general manager Dell Demps took over in the summer of 2010, a handful of Hornets players have been acquired through trades with other NBA teams. Among that group are starters Trevor Ariza and Marco Belinelli, as well as reserves Willie Green, Jason Smith, Jarrett Jack and David Andersen.

Meanwhile, Orlando recently overhauled its roster and rotation with a pair of headline-grabbing deals. On Dec. 18, the Magic traded for starters Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu from the Phoenix Suns, while also obtaining former Washington Wizards standout Gilbert Arenas, who has been coming off the bench early in his Orlando tenure.

Orlando has emerged as one of the NBAs marquee teams in recent years, including reaching the NBA Finals in 2009 before losing in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the Magic decided to make a significant alteration to their lineup after a relatively inconsistent start to 2010-11. Orlando dropped its first three games after the pair of Dec. 18 trades, but then immediately went on a lengthy winning streak that is now at nine consecutive games. The impressive string of victories began with a triumph over San Antonio on Dec. 23, followed by a hard-fought win against Boston on Christmas.

New Orleans will try to continue its success at home against Orlando in recent years Wednesday. Despite a greatly superior overall record last season, the Magic were beaten by the Hornets 100-93 here in a nationally televised game. It was Orlandos second straight loss in the Big Easy.



INTRIGUING MATCH-UP


Center, Emeka Okafor vs. Dwight Howard
Howard and Okafor were the first and second overall picks of the 2004 NBA Draft, respectively. Okafor actually had the more productive NBA debut season, earning the leagues Rookie of the Year award for 2004-05, but since then Howard has been a perennial All-Star. The Hornets frontcourt players will try to prevent Howard from having one of his frequent dominant performances in the paint, including averages of 25.5 points and 11.0 rebounds vs. NOLA last season.



HORNETS.COM SCOUTING REPORT
A closer look at the Orlando Magic:


Jameer Nelson


Brandon Bass

GUARDS
A former national college basketball player of the year at St. Josephs (Pa.), Jameer Nelson has gradually become of the NBAs top starting point guards. The 6-foot, 190-pounder received his first All-Star selection for the Eastern Conference in 2009, though he did not play in the game due to injury. Nelson is an outstanding three-point shooter who dominated during the first two rounds of the 2010 playoffs, putting up big scoring numbers against Charlotte and Atlanta. After his decorated college career at St. Joes, Nelson dropped to the 20th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, partly due to the perception that he was undersized, but over his seven-year NBA career hes outperformed many players who were drafted ahead of him.

Acquired in a Dec. 18 trade with Phoenix, shooting guard Jason Richardson provides the Magic with an additional three-point threat, as well as a player who can slash to the basket for dunks and layups. Though hes now been in the league 11 years and will turn 30 on Jan. 20, he remains capable of highlight-reel finishes around the rim. Richardson was the champion of the NBAs dunk contest at All-Star weekend in 2002 and 2003, one of only three players in league history to win the event in back-to-back years (the others are Michael Jordan and Nate Robinson).

After a controversy-filled past few years with the Washington Wizards, including a season-ending suspension in 2009-10, Gilbert Arenas received a fresh start when he was traded to the Magic last month. Along with off-the-court issues, Arenas has battled a string of injuries in recent seasons, as he attempts to return to the form he displayed when he was selected to the All-Star Game three consecutive years from 2005-07. Early in his Orlando tenure, the Magic have brought Arenas off the bench, as a sub who can provide instant offense. He had a 22-point, 11-assist game Dec. 28 at Cleveland.

One of a growing number of Louisiana natives to make it to the NBA, Slidell native Chris Duhon is in his first season with the Magic. Duhon has been nursing a back injury and has played less frequently of late after Orlandos recent trades. The former Duke University standout established a foundation in 2005 to benefit his hometown after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Like Duhon, shooting guard J.J. Redick became well-known among basketball fans while excelling in college for the Duke Blue Devils. The long-range threat was a disappointment early in his NBA career, but has steadily improved to the point where Redick is one of Orlandos most reliable reserves.

Twelve-year NBA veteran Jason Williams burst onto the hoops scene as a rookie in 1998-99 due to his flashy passing and ballhandling skills. More than a decade later, hes settled in as an experienced, steady floor leader with a stellar assist-to-turnover ratio. Williams has been sparingly used this season due to a foot injury and Orlandos excellent depth at his position.

FORWARDS
Baton Rouge native and LSU product Brandon Bass has moved into the most prominent role of his NBA career this season. Bass spent much of 2009-10 as a backup or completely out of Magic coach Stan Van Gundys rotation, but hes moved into the starting five of late. Bass, also a two-year member of the Hornets in 2005-06 and 2006-07, is an aggressive rebounder and scorer.

Hedo Turkoglu was a key component of the Magics 2009 Eastern Conference championship run, highlighted by his delivering several game-winning shots. However, Turkoglu was not re-signed after that season, leading to largely disappointing stints with Toronto and Phoenix. Turkoglu returned to the Magic in a December trade and has appeared to be comfortable again while fitting in nicely with his new (and old) team.

Quentin Richardson began the season as Orlandos starting small forward, but has seen a significantly reduced role since the Magic completed their pair of December trades.

Multi-skilled power forward Ryan Anderson is a player some analysts around the NBA believe has a chance to be an excellent contributor, but hes often been stuck on the bench with the ultra-deep Magic. Andersons minutes have increased noticeably in recent weeks.

Former Phoenix first-round pick Earl Clark received scant playing time during his time with the Suns. Early in his Magic stint, hes gotten a bit more minutes, though hes still developing as an NBA player.

CENTERS
The NBAs premier center, 6-foot-11 Dwight Howard produced one of the most memorable highlights of his outstanding pro career in New Orleans in 2008. Howard edged Nate Robinson in the final round of the dunk contest, closing the victory by donning a Superman cape while throwing down one of his slams. Howard has terrorized many opposing teams over his seven-year NBA career, including the Hornets. The Atlanta native shot 61 percent from the field in two games vs. New Orleans last season, while blocking seven shots.

Following the trade of quality backup center Marcin Gortat, Malik Allen became the lone Magic player aside from Howard who has notable experience at the position. Allens strength is his mid-range jump shooting ability, a stark contrast to Howards playing style.

Former Kentucky reserve Daniel Orton has yet to make his official NBA debut, having spent time in the D-League and also undergoing December knee surgery.

Players the Magic want shooting free throws in a close game
Name Career FT percentage (through Jan. 11)
J.J.
Redick
86.5
Went 28-for-29 from line during month of November.
Ryan Anderson 84.1
Had 22 points in 19 minutes vs. Hornets in 2009 preseason.
Jameer Nelson 80.9
Arenas (80.4), Turkoglu (79.6), Duhon (79.3) also excellent.
If the Magic need a three-pointer, three of their best options are
Name Career 3-PT% (through Jan. 11)
J.J. Redick 39.8
Drilled six treys in a game at Denver in December.
Jameer Nelson 39.0
Leads Magic in three-point makes this season.
Hudo Turkoglu 38.5
Teams most clutch shooter in his first stint with Magic.




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