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Tonight's Game: Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Clippers

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UPDATE: J.J. Redick is out of the starting lineup, according to Brian Schmitz. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy did not say much about his reasoning:

"I'm not going to get into the details (about the change)," Van Gundy said."I thought it was the best thing going forward at least for this trip. It gives us the best matchups."

[....]

Asked what this means for Redick, Van Gundy said, "I don't know. We'll see what happens. His role has changed a little, but we'll see how he plays."

It does not sound good for J.J., does it?

2008/2009 NBA Regular Season
Orlando Magic main logo
@
Los Angeles Clippers main logo
15-5 4-16
December 8th, 2008
STAPLES Center
10:30 PM
Sun Sports
Probable starters:
Jameer Nelson PG Baron Davis
Keith Bogans SG Eric Gordon
Hedo Turkoglu SF Al Thornton
Rashard Lewis PF Zach Randolph
Dwight Howard C Marcus Camby

The Orlando Magic open their five-game, West-Coast road trip at STAPLES Center against the disappointing Los Angeles Clippers. On paper, it's their easiest game; the Clippers have the worst record, by far, of any team the Magic will play. On the court, though, it may be a different story.

Perhaps no single player has tormented the Magic over the last several seasons than Baron Davis, who left the Golden State Warriors to sign a lucrative deal with the Clippers this summer. Davis' size and strength, not to mention his considerable skill, make him a tough matchup for any team, but especially the Magic. Jameer Nelson gives up 3 inches and 25 pounds1 to Davis, according to the players' listed heights. The result hasn't been pretty. In six career head-to-head matchups, Davis bests Nelson in darn near every statistical category: points (26 to 12.3), rebounds (4 to 2.3), assists (7.2 to 5) steals (2.5 to 1.5) and blocks (1.2) while shooting better from the field and from the foul line. Then again, Nelson owns the better won/lost record. Ideally, the Magic would put shooting guard--and former Davis teammate--Mickael Pietrus on Davis and cross-match Nelson with Eric Gordon; unfortunately, Pietrus will miss several more weeks with a thumb injury on his right (shooting) hand. So there goes that idea.

1: And maybe more. According to the NY Daily News, Davis reportedly packed on a bunch of weight so he could then lose it with a special weight-loss shake... for a $250,000 endorsement deal. (HT: Red's Army)

Still, Orlando should be heavily favored. The Clippers are loathe to defend--really, they gave up 20 uncontested shots to the Memphis Grizzlies in a recent game--and their head-scratching acquisition of notorious non-defender Zach Randolph last month did little to change that. Marcus Camby, shifting from power forward to center in Chris Kaman's injury absence, is only one season removed from winning the Defensive Player of the Year award, but he's no match for Dwight Howard, who will try to celebrate his 23rd birthday in style by leading the Magic to victory. Camby blocks shots by rotating to the strong side to cut off penetration, not by matching up with his own man. As a result, Magic guards should look to shovel-pass to Dwight on their drives when Camby is in the game. Once he rotates, Dwight will be wiiiiiiide the heck open--and I don't expect any Clipper will rotate to Dwight to cover for Camby. This paragraph is just a long-winded way of saying Dwight Howard will probably go off tonight, provided his teammates look for him.

If you want to see the game, you may want to set your DVR and watch it over breakfast tomorrow morning. It doesn't start until 10:30, although it's on Sun Sports, which means everyone in Orlando should be able to tune-in. Go Magic.