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What They're Saying Before the Orlando Magic Face Off Against the New Orleans Hornets

  • Media should take off its LeBron James blinders and start pumping Dwight Howard for MVP
    Mike Bianchi thinks Dwight Howard deserves to be in the MVP discussion, even though he probably won't win the award this year.

    We say we want our NBA stars to be humble and hardworking. We say we want players who don't just score points but sacrifice themselves and their offensive production for the sake of the team. But is that really what we want?

    Howard leads the league in doing the dirty work — rebounding, blocking shots and playing defense — and yet he gets no love for it. [...]

    How can it be that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year — a guy who leads the league in rebounding and blocked shots and averages nearly 20 points per game — is not only ignored as an MVP candidate but continues to get ripped by some in the media?
  • Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard should be favorite to repeat as defensive player of the year
    Head coach Stan Van Gundy believes Howard, barring something unforeseen, should be named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

    Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said that C Dwight Howard should repeat as NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

    Howard leads the league in rebounding and blocked shots for the second consecutive season.

    "I don't know how he couldn't get it again," Van Gundy said. "When you're that dominate on the defensive boards, you're taking away second chances. You're leading the league in blocked shots. He defends his position well. He's a very good pick-and-roll defender.

    "There's just not a lot of weaknesses with him on the defensive end of the floor. I would be disappointed and surprised — assuming that the next 24 games continue the same trend — if he were not Defensive Player of the Year again."

More after the jump.

  • Awaiting the Orlando Magic in New Orleans: the unstoppable Marcus Thornton
    Tania Ganguli talks about the impact Marcus Thornton, a rookie shooting guard for the New Orleans Hornets, has made coming off the bench.

  • Orlando Magic are rounding into playoff form
    Brian Schmitz notes that the Orlando Magic, with the 2010 NBA Playoffs looming closer, are beginning to think about the postseason.

    "What we got caught up early in the year is only thinking about getting back to the Finals instead of playing the season out," Dwight Howard said. "I think since all-star weekend, we have done an excellent job to prepare us mentally for what's ahead."

    Led by the mighty Howard, the Magic appear to be rounding into playoff form.

    They have been playing their best basketball since a January stretch in which they lost seven of nine games. They have won 13 of their last 17, with two wins against the Celtics and one against the Cavs and another against Atlanta.

    Smith doesn't feel the Magic have "hit their stride yet. I know our team is capable of more."
  • The Good, The Bad and Jameer Nelson
    Philip Rossman-Reich of Orlando Magic Daily chronicles Jameer Nelson's play, which has been up and down, and notes that he's "starting to play closer to his All-Star levels from last season."

  • New Orleans Hornets face tall order in the Orlando Magic
    John Reid of The Times Picayune comments that the Hornets will have a tough task dealing with the Magic in tonight's game.

    Against the Magic, not only must New Orleans worry about Howard, but guard Vince Carter scored 48 points in Orlando's 123-117 victory against the Hornets at Amway Arena earlier this month.

    Several of Carter's shots came from open lanes to the basket that resulted in uncontested layups, which helped the Magic overcome a 15-point halftime deficit after the Hornets scored season-high 70 points.

    "Our best offense is our best defense," Hornets rookie guard Darren Collison said. "It's real hard to score when the other team is scoring."