The Magic, who beat Portland in Orlando, face the Trail Blazers tonight in a rematch.
Brian Schmitz talks about Rashard Lewis' struggles and how that's affected the Orlando Magic this year.
The Orlando Magic have come to the harsh realization that something's missing this season. If power forward Rashard Lewis needed a reminder, it was right there in black and white for him to see.
He was reading some media pregame notes Wednesday night in Denver that stated the Magic had "more than 30 wins last season" before losing their 12th game — 38 wins to be exact. The factoid ignited a discussion between Lewis and injured Vince Carter.
Lewis and the Magic then lost to the Denver Nuggets, falling to their current record of 26-13.
"Vince and I were talking. We have to make this work," Lewis said. "It feels different (this season). But we got to make it work. Nobody's going anywhere.
Bench a bright spot for Orlando Magic amid recent streak of bleakness
Head coach Stan Van Gundy praises the bench for its play these past few games.
Some of the Magic's starters are struggling, but the bench has provided plenty of points lately.
"The guys we're getting points from on a nightly basis now … Our bench guys are doing a good job," coach Stan Van Gundy said.
But a happy ending will be hard to find here because they still do have Howard and we don't have a prayer of stopping him from doing whatever he wants. Anybody with any Saturday morning experience at all knows you can put Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Robin, the Green Lantern, Hawkman, Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, Zan, Jayna, and Gleek on one side and Superman on the other and the Man of Steel still wins the Battle of the Superfriends. That's likely to be the story of the game tonight. Howard is too tall, too big, too powerful, and will open up too many opportunities for slumping teammates the way Portland will have to guard him. I don't even want to think about the rebounding.
I think he'll play, I haven't even seen him sit out any games if he could possibly go so I don't really think he's not playing. The only way I'd think that is if he said he's not playing. I think as of now he's playing.
NBA: One Howard (Dwight) will face another Howard (Juwan); news, notes and links
UPDATE: Geoffrey C. Arnold of The Oregonian breaks down the center matchup for the Blazers, in which he anticipates a big game for Howard.
And Dwight Howard isn't just some journeyman center who has been added to the team to fill out a roster. Howard is the best center in the league and when he is on his game, the most dominant.
Given the lack of bulk and length at the center and power forward position on the Blazers' roster, the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Howard could produce a monster game against Portland. Howard didn't score much (12 points) in the Magic's 92-83 home win against Portland Dec. 19, but he was dominant in the paint with 20 rebounds and four blocks.
Blazers vs. Magic - Preview
UPDATE 3: Ezra Ace Caraeff of the Portland Roundball Society chimes in on how Portland will have to defeat Orlando in tonight's game.
For Portland to topple the best team in the Southeast Division, the Blazers can not afford to be a pushovers. Orlando dominates teams that linger under .500 (18-5), while they are merely 8-8 against lineups with winning records. They also live and die on shots from behind the arch, leading the NBA with an average of 28+ three-point attempts per game. Although Brandon Roy's hamstring is currently being held together solely by the power of prayer, the Blazers needs to assert their homecourt advantage, limit Howard's boards/dunks, and keep the Magic's three-point percentage low. Basically, they need to play like the winning team they are.
Roy still feels hamstring pain; tonight's status determined at game time
UPDATE 4: Jason Quick of The Oregonian has more on Roy's status.
Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy said his right hamstring is still tender and that his status for tonight's 7:30 p.m. game against Orlando is up in the air.
"I'm not saying for sure I will play tonight - I really want to - but ... I feel some soreness there,'' Roy said. "I will see how it feels tonight.''
Roy has been struggling with a sore hamstring since Jan. 2, when he tweaked the muscle in the second quarter of a game against Golden State.