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Tonight's Game: Phoenix Suns at Orlando Magic

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2009/2010 NBA Season
4-0 3-1
November 4th, 2009
Amway Arena
7:00 PM
Sun Sports
Probable starters:
Steve Nash PG Jameer Nelson
Jason Richardson SG J.J. Redick
Grant Hill SF Matt Barnes
Amar'e Stoudemire PF Ryan Anderson
Channing Frye C Dwight Howard
Game Officials
Tom Washington
Derrick Collins
Olandis Poole

The Orlando Magic will look to rebound tonight after their first loss of the season with a contest against the streaking Phoenix Suns, who are on an impressive 4-0 start to the season. After a disappointing 2008/09 campaign, the Suns are back to their running-and-gunning ways, and enjoying it: they're second in pace, third in offensive efficiency, and second in effective field-goal percentage on the young season. They've also posted a not-terrible defensive rating (104.5) that rates 12th in the league, perhaps due to coach Alvin Gentry's emphasis on forcing the opposing team to take jumpers. In other words, this opponent is not one the Magic should take lightly.

With Steve Nash, Amar'e Stoudemire, Jason Richardson, and Grant Hill, Phoenix has proven offensive commodities. The one starter of whom the Magic can't afford to lose track, though, is unheralded fifth-year center Channing Frye. A jump-shooting big man, Frye's extended his range beyond the three-point line, which has earned him the nickname "Deep Frye." Another such big man, Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors, gave the Magic fits on Sunday, hitting 4-of-5 three-pointers in a 26-point effort. Whoever's guarding him, be it Dwight Howard or Ryan Anderson, must not lose track of him on the pick-and-roll with Nash. All told, Frye's averaging 17 points per game, which is a mere 5th on the high-powered Suns, while connecting on 56% of his three-pointers.

As we've recounted, the Magic stunk it up last night in Detroit. No inside game, thanks to Howard's foul trouble, and no outside game, thanks to everyone else's foul touch from three-point range. An overall lazy performance. And while the Pistons outworked the Magic in Detroit, the Suns bested the Heat in Miami, with Nash scoring 30 points in 35 minutes. Maybe his custom vitaminwater flavor gave him a boost?

(Sorry. Any excuse to post that video. His delivery of "Step 2!" kills me every time.)

In case you're curious about the historical effects of playing in Miami the night before playing in Orlando, here are the facts: 6 NBA teams last season had a back-to-back set in which they played Miami on the first night and Orlando on the second. Those teams went 2-4 in Miami and 2-4 in Orlando. Oddly, the two teams to win in Miami (that'd be Boston and Denver) also won in Orlando, which means the four other teams (the L.A. Lakers, Philadelphia, Sacramento, and Utah) lost both games. In other words, it was feast or famine for teams double-dipping in the Sunshine State last year. If the Suns win tonight, that trend will have continued.

In any event, this game should be another high-scoring one, as I don't anticipate the Magic's offense taking the night off again. 250 points combined between the two teams? Certainly possible. Tune in at 7 to watch the... onslaught? Carnage? No one really knows. Which is, I suspect, why you're watching in the first place.

UPDATE: Vince Carter is out for the game (ankle). Mickael Pietrus will suit up.