The All Star Weekend is over and tonight the Magic are back at it against Houston. This is a clash of the bottom team from each Conference but it could be a fun game to watch. Each team is rebuilding around their young stars, who are exciting talents.
The tip time from Florida is shown on the Orlando Magic website as being midnight here in the UK (7pm Eastern for our friends in Orlando). To watch the game live or on demand in the UK you will need an active NBA League Pass 2021/22 subscription.
The Orlando Magic
Last time out Orlando were humbled in the Amway Center by Atlanta, the scoreline finishing 130-109.
Cole Anthony led the team with 23 points and 5 assists. Jalen Suggs contributed 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal. Wendell Carter Jr finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds for his 25th double-doubles on the season so far. He also added 6 assists. Franz Wagner got 12 points for his 50th double figure scoring game in 60 played. Mo Bamba recorded 11 points.
Orlando has a record of 13 wins and 47 losses, which saw them drop back to last in the Eastern Conference. The Magic also hold the worst record in the NBA. Over the last 10 games played the Magic have won 3, losing the last 4 straight. The home record stands at 5 wins of 26 games played, whilst on the road it is 8 wins in 34 played. In points per game the Magic are scoring 103.3 whilst conceding 112. The efficiency rating for Orlando remains 28th on offence and dropped to 23rd defensively.
The Houston Rockets
Houston are 15th in the West, with a 15 win and 43 loss record. The Rockets have lost 7 games straight and won only 1 of their last 10 match-ups. On the road they have won a total of just 7 games in 32 they have so far played. They score an average 108.5 points per game, whilst conceding 118.1 (worst defence in the NBA).
The Rockets last played on February 17th, on the road in LA to the Clippers. In a 111-142 loss Houston were led by Jalen Green with 21 points. JaeSean Tate poured in a further 19 points and Christian Wood 13. The bench unit was led by Josh Christopher with 13 points scored.
Head-To-Head – The Houston Rockets
In 66 regular season games played the score stands at 29-37 to Houston.
The teams met in Houston on December 3rd, the Rockets grabbing a late win by 116-118. Eric Gordon sunk their final two scores, the last coming with only 1.6 seconds of the game remaining. Cole Anthony was trusted with getting the win for Orlando and was close to sinking the three at the final buzzer.
Houston swept the series 2-0 last season. They did a job on Orlando in the first game on January 8th, winning in Houston by 90-132. For a long period that stood as last season’s largest margin of defeat and most points conceded. The previous two seasons had seen the series tied 1-1. However Orlando have only won twice in the past 11 meetings.
These two teams have famously met only once in the playoffs, the 1995 Finals, resulting in a 4-0 win for Houston.
Our Opponents – The Houston Rockets
The Rockets are also in a rebuild. Houston are centring theirs around the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft; Jalen Green. As with Orlando this is being built around youth. Jae’Sean Tate, Kevin Porter Jr, Christian Wood, Kenyon Martin Jr, Josh Christopher, David Nwaba and rookie Alperen Sengun. It is easy to see how Houston fans are positive about their future. They also acquired Bruno Fernando & Dennis Schroeder before the trade deadline,
Injury has been a factor for Houston. Kevin Porter Jr and Eric Gordon are both expected to return for Houston, whilst Usman Garuba remains out. John Wall (yes he’s still on the Rockets roster!) is said to be working on his fitness in Miami. He is not expected to take to the court for Houston this season.
Last Starting Lineup – Dennis Schroeder (PG), Jalen Green (SG), Garrison Matthews (SF), Jae’Sean Tate (PF), Christian Wood (C)
Last Bench Unit – Josh Christopher, Kenyon Martin Jr, David Nwaba, Alperen Sengun, Bruno Fernando
Additional Players Now Available – Kevin Porter Jr, Eric Gordon
The Orlando Magic Injury Report
There is limited optimism around the Magic injury list on ESPN.
Moe Wagner is again updated as being out with a left rib contusion.
RJ Hampton has been out with a left knee injury. Dan Savage reported that RJ has been a full participant in practice, so was expected to return. However he has sprained an ankle during shoot-around today and is now questionable.
Markelle Fultz is out indefinitely with no public timeline for his return. There remain rumours around his return but no more is known than he is participating in practice.
Jonathan Isaac continues to be out as he rehabilitates the repaired left knee. There remains no public timeline for his return to the court but is said to be doing on court drills and shooting.
Bol Bol (who was acquired at the trade deadline) remains likely to be out for the season, having undergone surgery to a foot injury.
The Orlando Lineup As The Magic Are Back At It Against Houston
It is unlikely that Coach Jamahl Mosely makes any change to his core unit from what we saw against Atlanta.
Magic Starting Lineup – Cole Anthony (PG), Jalen Suggs (SG), Franz Wagner (SF), Wendell Carter Jr (PF), Mo Bamba (C)
Magic Bench Unit – Gary Harris, Chuma Okeke, Terrence Ross, Admiral Schofield, Robin Lopez, Ignas Brazdeikis (DNP)
Final Thoughts As The Magic Are Back At It Against Houston
After what seems like an age without an Orlando game, tonight finally the Magic are back at it against Houston.
We are at that time of year where the Draft is the focus and tanking remains a thing. So yes, this is a clash that for their lottery odds neither team will want to win. However someone has to and young players want to prove themselves, but we all know team management can engineer opportunities to lose.
Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner have all been away in Cleveland taking part in the All Star Weekend. They will want to continue to play and develop their chemistry with each other and the team
Orlando have the remaining games to decide if together Wendell Carter Jr and Mo Bamba have a future. Wendell is already signed but Bamba is fast approaching free agency.
Chuma Okeke will be aiming to grow his opportunity within the team. He has been more efficient on offence of late and is a defender of growing renown.
Houston statistically are awful. They rely on the three ball offensively and getting to the free throw line. Their efficiency in both areas is amongst the NBA’s worst. Houston turn the ball over a lot and are not good rebounding. The league’s worst defence is susceptible to being attacked inside the arc.
This game is an opportunity for Orlando to hit some high notes. Whether we want it or not do not be surprised if the Magic take a strong win tonight.