Mired in a three-game losing streak, the Orlando Magic face the Utah Jazz tonight on the second night of a taxing back-to-back set. Orlando's offense has died during the streak and its defense hasn't been much better. Meanwhile, Utah's enjoying a solid start despite having to integrate offseason acquisition Al Jefferson into its motion offense. Deron Williams again ranks among the league's top point guards, and Magic-killer extraordinaire Paul Millsap is putting up 17.9 points and 8.2 boards, shooting 55.9 percent from the floor, in his first season as a full-time starter.
But the Magic have a huge advantage tonight on the wings; with Jazz guard Raja Bell sidelined with a strained right abductor, rookie Gordon Hayward will get the start, leaving Utah with only Earl Watson, Ronnie Price, and C.J. Miles available off the bench to relieve him. The 20-year-old rookie is among a number of first-year players having problems adjusting to the NBA, as Kevin Pelton documented yesterday, and Vince Carter ought to exploit him easily. In his last three visits to Utah, Carter's averaged 29.7 points on 65.7 percent True Shooting.
Utah's among the hardest teams to defend in the league, and Williams is almost impossible to cover. You almost have to assume he's going to go off, and just hope his teammates miss shots, or something. 21.8 points, 4.2 boards, 10 assists for the sixth-year player, which is just... I don't know. Silly?
The Magic held a team meeting last night, so they ought to be fired up for this one. Frankly, if a three-game losing streak capped with a 14-point road loss, on national TV, to a .500 team won't motivate them, I don't know what will.
The game tips at 9.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|15-7 (6-4 road)
|16-7 (9-5 home)
|December 10th, 2010|
|Fox Sports Florida|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Deron Williams|
|Vince Carter||SG||Gordon Hayward|
|Rashard Lewis||SF||Andrei Kirilenko|
|Brandon Bass||PF||Paul Millsap|
|Dwight Howard||C||Al Jefferson|
|November 10th: Jazz 104, Magic 94|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|91.1 (19th)||Pace||90.8 (23rd)|
|106.3 (16th)||ORtg||109.3 (8th)|
|100.0 (2nd)||DRtg||105.3 (10th)|