|2009/2010 NBA Season|
|December 21st, 2009|
|Deron Williams||PG||Jason Williams|
|Ronnie Brewer||SG||Vince Carter|
|C.J. Miles||SF||Mickael Pietrus|
|Carlos Boozer||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Mehmet Okur||C||Dwight Howard|
|December 10th: Jazz 120, Magic 111|
The Orlando Magic have a shot at redemption tonight when they host the Utah Jazz, who handed them a humbling, 120-11 defeat earlier this month, tonight at Amway Arena. Utah point guard Deron Williams lit up the Magic for 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 15 assists in that meeting, while power forward Carlos Boozer added 20 points and 14 boards and swingman C.J. Miles scored a season-high 22 off the bench. Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune reports that coach Jerry Sloan has slotted Miles into tonight's starting lineup ahead of Wesley Matthews due to his "experience and length," although I suspect Miles' strong showing last time out may have influenced Sloan's decision a bit.
Orlando wants to strengthen its defense overall, but is particularly concerned with keeping Williams out of the paint. His dribble-penetration can set up either a shot for himself or a pass to an open teammate, which makes him so dangerous. The fact that he's also an excellent jump-shooter makes him even more lethal. Stopping Williams is Orlando's top priority, which means Magic starter Jason Williams will have his hands full tonight. All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson will return from a nearly five-week absence due to left knee surgery off the bench tonight, but how effective he'll be is up in the air. Coach Stan Van Gundy may have to call on third-stringer Anthony Johnson to defend Deron Williams if Jason Williams isn't up to the task, and if Nelson proves ineffective. When was the last time the Magic used all three point guards in a non-blowout situation? I don't know offhand, but there's a chance it could happen tonight.
One thing to watch for tonight is the potential re-emergence of Magic guard Vince Carter, who's mired in a dreadful shooting slump, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel explains here. He scored 34 points earlier this year against the Jazz, but has exceeded 12 points once in the five games since then. He shot 1-of-14 against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday. Exploding against Utah is nothing new for Carter, as he's averaged 25.3 points per game on 53.8% true shooting against it over the last five seasons.
Another subplot: the matchup between Boozer and Magic center Dwight Howard. While the two likely won't guard one another, they are good friends owing to their shared experience winning the gold medal for the United States in last summer's Olympics. Tim Povtak of AOL FanHouse reports that they spent Sunday, an off-day, hanging out and discussing the possibility of playing together again. Boozer's an unrestricted free agent this summer. Make of that information what you will, though I advise caution in romanticizing the Magic's making any huge free-agent pickup this summer.
I'm at Amway Arena to cover the game live. Tip's at 7 on
Sun Sports FSN Florida.