|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|December 15th, 2008|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||C.J. Watson|
|Keith Bogans||SG||Jamal Crawford|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Kelenna Azubuike|
|Rashard Lewis||PF||Stephen Jackson|
|Marcin Gortat||C||Andris Biedrins|
The Orlando Magic finish a 5-game, West Coast road trip tonight against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. The Magic are 3-1 on the trip so far, including victories in the notoriously unfriendly confines of the Rose Garden and EnergySolutions Arena. The Oracle Arena, where the Warriors play, earned the nickname "The Roaracle" for its raucous fans in the Warriors' improbable 2007 playoff run. It's quieted down considerably since.
After missing the playoffs last season, Warriors Nation watched their team let franchise point guard Baron Davis bolt for his hometown of L.A. over the summer; give 5 years and $50 million to free-agent swingman Corey Maggette, whose brittleness and reluctance to pass already have him on the trade block; give shooting guard Monta Ellis a well-deserved contract extension, only for Ellis to shred his ankle in a mo-ped accident and risk voiding his contract; and trade jilted power forward Al Harrington to New York, where he's happy and averaging 25.5 points per game on 47.2% shooting. Golden State of Mind, SB Nation's Warriors blog, says the WE BELIEVE era is dead. Sad. I always liked the Warriors.
Strange as it may seem, the Dubs stand a fighting chance against the Magic tonight. Dwight Howard, who routinely blasts the Warriors due to their lack of an interior defender--a lack they may have addressed with their signing of Ronny Turiaf this summer--is listed as doubtful due to the sore left knee which kept him out of Saturday night's impressive victory in Utah. Even if he can play, it's a good bet that running at the Warriors' frenetic pace will bother his knee, so his effectiveness will be compromised. Meanwhile, although Stephen Jackson and Jamal Crawford take some awful shots, they're liable to catch fire at any time. Transition defense has been a problem for Orlando lately, and the Warriors have the personnel and skill to exploit that weakness.
Then again, they have absolutely nobody who can stop any of the Magic's offensive weapons. If Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, or Hedo Turkoglu find the range tonight, Orlando should cruise to victory. Maybe Keith Bogans can add a three-pointer or four; he tied Nelson as the Magic's leading scorer in their lone visit to the Oracle last season, dropping four triples in the process. Also, does anyone else think Courtney Lee could have a career night against the Warriors? Given how well he reads the passing lanes and how lethal he is on the break, I think it's safe to assume Lee will reach double-figures for the second time in his career.
Anyway, the top's at 10:30. Dubs fans tuning in to see Howard, as well as former Warriors Mickael Pietrus and Adonal Foyle, may be disappointed. Too bad. Go Magic! Make threes!