As losers of 5 straight games and 10 of their last 11, the Sacramento Kings are among the few NBA teams having a rougher go of it lately than the Orlando Magic. When they pay a visit to Amway Arena tonight, they'll be looking to get a fairly large monkey off their back. Another fairly large thing they'll contend with this evening? All-Star center Dwight Howard, who had one of his best all-around games as a pro against the Kings just last week. And, as Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty points out, the Kings allow their opponents to shoot 63.9% at the rim, well above the league average of 60.4%. These stats do not bode well for Sacramento. Ziller has more of 'em here.
Psst! Guess which player will score Orlando's third field goal tonight and you could win tickets to see the Magic play the Celtics next Thursday! Enter here before tonight's tipoff for your chance to win.
|2009/2010 NBA Season|
|January 22nd, 2010|
|Tyreke Evans||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Kevin Martin||SG||Vince Carter|
|Donté Greene||SF||Matt Barnes|
|Jason Thompson||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Jon Brockman||C||Dwight Howard|
|January 12th: Magic 109, Kings 88|
There's also the Kings' struggle to re-integrate shooting guard Kevin Martin back into the lineup with point guard Tyreke Evans, the heavy favorite to win this year's Rookie of the Year award, who has usurped Martin as the team's franchise player. Sacramento is 1-8 with Martin and Evans together, compared to 14-18 when Martin was sidelined with an injury.
Regardless of fit, Evans and Martin present problems for Orlando. Evans' combination of size and speed makes him a tough cover for Jameer Nelson or Jason Williams. The Magic dodged a bullet in their last meeting, when Evans--usually a terrific finisher--missed 6 of his 9 shot attempts at the rim. Howard's presence had a little to do with those misses, but some of them were bunnies that just bounced out.
Meanwhile, Martin is an incredibly accomplished scorer. Ziller has argued that Martin's combination of three-point accuracy and foul-drawing rate is "unprecedented", a subject he revisits here. The Magic have struggled to defend the three-pointer of late, and the Kings managed to shoot 8-of-20 against them through the first three quarters last week before Orlando tightened the screws defensively and forced them into 7 fourth-quarter misses en route to a decisive, 33-10, thrashing in the period. Mickael Pietrus, as the team's best perimeter defender, will get his chances to stop Martin. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel believes that Matt Barnes, Martin's former Sacramento teammate and summer workout buddy, will also have a go against Speed Racer. Good luck to you, gentlemen.
Finally, it must be said that the Magic might find themselves on the losing end if they don't box out. Jon Brockman is an offensive rebounding machine, and the Kings miss their fair share of shots. Preventing them from getting second looks should be one of the Magic's top defensive priorities. Well, defensive rebounding should be a priority every night, but it needs special attention against a team so skilled in that area.
Tipoff's at or around 7 PM. Be sure to check out the eerie resemblance between Kings beat writer Sam Amick and Magic forward Ryan Anderson.