The Orlando Magic have their second go-round with their revamed roster tonight when they host the Dallas Mavericks, who have won 15 of their last 16 games, at Amway Center. Indeed, Orlando and Dallas are headed in opposite directions, as Orlando's dropped seven of its last eight contests, with the lone win coming against the bottom-feeding L.A. Clippers. Dallas, meanwhile, has lost once in the last month, and that was by four points.
The Mavericks might just be this year's sweetheart team for hoop-heads. They've won hearts and minds with their willingness to embrace an unorthodox defense which mixes between man and zone coverage, a credit to coach Rick Carlisle. Plus, Dirk Nowitzki continues his Ageless Wonder career. At 32, he's scoring 24.8 points in 36.2 minutes, while sinking 55 percent of his shots. Few players routinely make difficult shots with Nowitzki's regularity.
It's difficult to know what to expect from the Magic, and coach Stan Van Gundy said as much prior to tipoff: "I don't really have expectations. I jsut want to be better every night, that's all." It wouldn't surprise me if Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas put together solid performances in their first appearances in Magic blue at Amway Center. Or, they could combine to shoot 4-of-21 and Dallas could win by 30.
Van Gundy also said he's adjusted the Magic's starting lineup to compensate for the loss of Malik Allen, who's unavailable tonight due to a sprained ankle. Because Dwight Howard, Brandon Bass, and second-year man Earl Clark are Orlando's only healthy bigs, Van Gundy has shifted Bass to the bench. Turkoglu will start at power forward, Jason Richardson will shift to small forward, and J.J. Redick will get the nod at shooting guard. "We're so thin up front, I don't want Dwight and Brandon running into foul trouble at the same time. If they both got two in the first quarter, we'd be very, very thin up front," Van Gundy said.
Former Orlando forward DeShawn Stevenson, acquired as a throw-in from the Washington Wizards last season, has made 21 starts for Dallas. He's shooting 49.3 percent from three-point range, so it's safe to say he has not felt his face much lately.
I'm here at Amway Center to cover the game live.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|22-5 (9-1 road) |
|16-11 (9-4 home) |
|December 21st, 2010|
|Sun Sports / NBA TV|
|Jason Kidd||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Caron Butler||SG||J.J. Redick|
|DeShawn Stevenson||SF||Jason Richardson|
|Dirk Nowitzki||PF||Hedo Turkoglu|
|Tyson Chandler||C||Dwight Howard|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|90.9 (22nd)||Pace||91.3 (T-19th)|
|109.0 (11th)||ORtg||105.2 (18th)|
|102.6 (6th)||DRtg||101.7 (4th)|
|Tommy Nuñez Jr.|