The Orlando Magic visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night looking to hand the Blazers their first home defeat of the season. Portland's turned heads with its strong start to the season--its 7-2 record ranks it second in the Western Conference--despite the medical retirement of All-Star shooting guard Brandon Roy. In addition, the Blazers have won the last three meetings between the teams, limiting Orlando to 87 points or fewer in each.
All told, Wednesday's game will prove challenging for the visitors. Though his skills have diminished slightly with age, Gerald Wallace still has the defensive chops to make Hedo Turkoglu uncomfortable, which could put more pressure on struggling point guard Jameer Nelson to make plays. Nelson's scoring just 8.3 points per game on 36.8 percent shooting, but he might be happy to see Raymond Felton opposite him Wednesday. Nelson torched Felton in a first-round playoff series against a Felton-led Charlotte Bobcats squad in 2010.
Defense has played a key role in Portland's success to date: Trail Blazers opponents shoot just 23.7 percent from three-point range, by far the lowest figure in the league. As has been the case since Stan Van Gundy took over as coach five seasons ago, Orlando relies heavily on the three-point shot; it ranks second in makes, fourth in atttempts, and sixth in percentage (37.9) in 2011/12. If it finds success beyond the arc, it might just be able to topple this Western powerhouse.
Tipoff between the Magic and Blazers is set for 10 Eastern on Sun Sports.
|2011/2012 NBA Season|
|6-3 (2-2 away) |
|7-2 (6-0 home) |
|January 11th, 2012|
|Jameer Nelson||PG||Raymond Felton|
|Jason Richardson||SG||Wesley Matthews|
|Hedo Turkoglu||SF||Gerald Wallace|
|Ryan Anderson||PF||LaMarcus Aldridge|
|Dwight Howard||C||Marcus Camby|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|91.4 (17th)||Pace||87.9 (30th)|
|107.7 (T-14th)||ORtg||108.8 (10th)|
|101.8 (3rd)||DRtg||107.1 (14th)|