Wolves vs. Magic Gameday
Wolves Pregame Audio
Alan Horton Interview With Kevin Love
The Orlando Magic hit a minor setback in their attempt to climb to the top of the Eastern Conference. On Monday night, the Magic fell to the Celtics by 19 points and quickly realized that Boston rules the conference. After a second-round playoff loss to the Pistons last year, Orlando continues to improve with a 13-5 overall record this season and first place in the Southeast Division. The Magic is just 3.5 games back in the east while Dwight Howard is considered one of the brightest stars in the league.
The injury bug has hit the Magic, especially in the backcourt. Jameer Nelson missed his fourth consecutive game against the Celtics with a strained hip flexor. Anthony Johnson has received the starting spot at the point guard position. Randy Foye is a much younger guard and should be able to build on his recent scoring improvement against Johnson. In the loss to Oklahoma City on Monday, Foye began to use his size and strength with eight attempts from the free throw line. Nelson could return for the contest tonight, which may prove to be a more difficult match up for Foye. After riding the bench for most of his professional career, J.J. Redick has garnered big-time minutes for the Magic due to the injury to Mickael Pietrus. His outside shooting presents a threat but Mike Miller will hold a four-inch size advantage. Both players like to utilize screens to create open shots. Redick's specialty is 3-point shooting but the former Duke guard is hitting less than 30 percent of his shots from the arch.
Orlando features a dynamic scoring duo of Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis in the frontcourt. Both players combine to average 36 points per game and can shoot from any spot on the floor. Turkoglu and Lewis own deep range along with the ability to take defenders off the dribble. The Magic will rely on their point's production tonight against the Wolves. Lewis is a better fit at the small forward position and Al Jefferson should be able to use his strength against him in the post. Jefferson will struggle with Lewis' speed when he decides to face and attack the basket. The Wolves will need to be aware of possible foul trouble tonight. Orlando reaches the foul line 29 times a game, third best in the league.
Howard is best described as a beast at the center spot for the Magic. One of the best athletes in the league, Howard leads the NBA in blocked shots and rebounding while scoring 21 points per game. Jason Collins will have his hands full with the amazing strength inside the paint. The production from Howard gives the Magic a defensive presence by ranking second in the league in blocks and sixth in rebounding. If the Wolves can limit Howard's numbers on the glass, they will have a good shot at a road victory. However, Howard is one of those players who seem to reach his averages regardless of the opponent. Minnesota most focus on limiting the number of free throw attempts from Orlando while applying defensive pressure to Lewis and Turkoglu.
The Magic bench does not provide much production. Rookie guard, Courtney Lee has earned some quality minutes with the injuries to the backcourt. Tony Battie and Brian Cook are not a threat from an offensive standpoint but the two players will buy minutes for the starters. Minnesota is now thin at the small forward position with the loss of Corey Brewer for the season. Rodney Carney and Rashad McCants will have to come off the bench to help the Wolves account for the absence of Brewer. Sebastian Telfair continues to give Minnesota a different look with the second unit as he uses speed to create a faster pace. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 PM in Orlando.
Anthony Johnson, PG
J.J. Redick, SG
Hedo Turkoglu, SF
Rashard Lewis, PF
Dwight Howard, C
Randy Foye, PG
Mike Miller, SG
Ryan Gomes, SF
Al Jefferson, PF
Jason Collins, C