Gameday Dish: Magic in the Rose Garden

The Orlando Magic, owners of a 15-6 record (second best in the Eastern conference) come to Stumptown for their only Oregon appearance at the start of a 4-game road trip. The Trailblazers, 10-11, are one victory away from getting to .500 after winning the first two games of their current 3-game homestand.

The Magic lost Monday night in Florida to the Atlanta Hawks 80-74. However they were missing their starting point guard Jameer Nelson for the third straight game. Nelson was still recovering from a nasty flu bug that also affected Dwight Howard, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus the previous two games.  Orlando went 37% from the floor and were only 4 for 22 behind the arc.

The Blazers beat the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night 106-99. They also were without their starting 1-guard, 12-year vet Andre Miller. Miller was suspended by the NBA for “excessive and unnecessary contact” with rookie sensation Blake Griffin in Portland’s victory on Sunday against the L.A. Clippers. Miller had played in every game since January 24th, 2003 – a streak of 632 games (the longest among active players) until he was hit with the suspension.

Both of these squads are excellent on the defensive end of the floor. The Magic lead the NBA in points allowed at 90.8, and the Trailblazers currently are 7th in that category at 95.6.

Yesterday was seventh-year big man Dwight Howard’s 25th birthday. Maybe as a belated gift to himself, the 3x-first team all-NBA center can raise his 12.7ppg against the Blazers in Portland, his lowest average against any road opponent over his career.

In addition 13th year vet Vince Carter averaged a measly 7 ppg against the Blazers in two meetings last year as these teams each won on their homecourts.

Tune in tonight at 10:30PM ET on TNT to see if the Magic can regain their health and winning ways against the host Trailblazers in Portland, aka “The Greenest City in America”.

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