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Tonight's Game: Orlando Magic at Phoenix Suns

2009/2010 NBA Season
17-5 15-7
December 11th, 2009
U.S. Airways Center
10:30 PM
ESPN / FSN Florida
Probable Starters
Jason Williams PG Steve Nash
Vince Carter SG Jason Richardson
Mickael Pietrus SF Grant Hill
Rashard Lewis PF Amar'e Stoudemire
Dwight Howard C Channing Frye
Previous Meetings
November 4th: Magic 122, Suns 100
Game Officials
Joe Crawford
Derrick Collins
Mark Lindsay

The Orlando Magic face a tough task this evening when they visit the fast-paced Phoenix Suns on the second-night of a back-to-back set. It'll be a chance at redemption for Orlando, which imploded after gaining an 18-point lead over the Utah Jazz last night and wound up losing. Now, the Magic head to U.S. Airways Center, where the Suns are 7-0 on the season. This will be tough.

To be fair, Orlando was on the second night of a back-to-back in November when it handed Phoenix a 22-point defeat... but Phoenix, too was also playing two times in as many nights. The Suns have had two days off, in which the most exciting things to happen were Robin Lopez's smashing a glass door after practice and Grant Hill's soliciting his Twitter followers for haircut advice.

The Suns resemble the Magic in that they really, really, really shoot well. First in the league in effective field goal shooting, leading directly to first in offensive efficiency. The curious thing is that shooting is the only offensive four factor in which they excel; they're mediocre in terms of controlling the ball, snatching offensive rebounds, and getting to the foul line.

The media have hammered the "Phoenix Suns Don't Play Defense" line into the ground over the last several seasons, but for good reason. In Mike D'Antoni's last season coaching the Suns, they were 16th in defensive efficiency, which is much better than anyone would have you believe. Last year, under Terry Porter and Alvin Gentry, they dropped to 26th. This year, they're 26th again, chiefly because they don't force many turnovers and because they allow too many offensive rebounds. To their credit, they're the best team in the league at not fouling, which prompts the cynic in me to say, "how can you foul someone if you're not anywhere near him in the first place?"


The bottom line is that Orlando is the more talented, more balanced team. It's shut down Phoenix's offense once before this year, albeit under different circumstances; I have a hard time imagining Hill and Jason Richardson combining to miss each shot they take and go scoreless again. And clown the Suns' D all you want to, but so far, it appears as though Phoenix's offense is good enough to bail it out. And at home? 49.7% on three-pointers. This team is scary good offensively. Orlando allowed the Jazz 128.5 points per 100 possessions last night. Phoenix is an even better offensive team. It could get ugly. Or, the Magic could do one of their signature, bounce-back performances and come home with a 3-1 road trip in hand. Fun times.

See you at 10:30.