Magic-Nets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 10, 2012
With injuries taking a toll, the Orlando Magic are having a difficult time adjusting in the post-Dwight Howard era. The Brooklyn Nets, meanwhile, hope to repeat their winning formula from Friday's blowout at Orlando when they turn around and host the short-handed Magic on Sunday. With Howard, a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, now manning the middle for the Los Angeles Lakers, the new-look Magic (2-3) have been outscored 118-86 in the paint during a three-game losing streak. That margin includes a 46-30 advantage by the Nets, who were coming off a 30-point loss at Miami but pounded the ball inside against Orlando on the way to a 107-68 victory. Nets centers Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche did the most interior damage, combining for 29 points and 19 rebounds in a combined 48 minutes. "It definitely was a focus," Lopez said. "We wanted to come out and just hit them right away." The Nets (2-2) snapped a 10-game losing streak in the series and handed the Magic their second-worst home defeat behind a 121-81 loss to Detroit in its second NBA season in 1991. Orlando has allowed opponents to shoot 47.5 percent from field over its last three games, including a season-high 50.0 by Brooklyn. Friday marked the first time this season a Magic opponent has scored more than 100 points. "We've got a lot to work on, defensively being the main issue," guard Arron Afflalo said. "But the good thing is that we play the same team on Sunday. So I think it will be a great chance for us." Orlando also appears to have a lot to work on offensively after averaging 71.5 points and shooting 38.7 percent from the field in its last two games. The team's 90.6 scoring average is one of the league's worst. The possible return of Jameer Nelson (groin, hamstring) could help, though backup E'Twaun Moore has been solid in four games as the starting point guard with an average of 15.0 points while hitting 10 of 16 from 3-point range. Two other key Magic players won't be back Sunday. Al Harrington (knee) isn't expected to return for another week and Hedo Turkoglu (broken hand) could be out until December. Those absences put extra pressure on Glen Davis and J.J. Redick to produce, but they've stumbled after strong starts. Davis has averaged 9.3 points and shot 29.5 percent during the three-game skid after totaling 51 points during Orlando's 2-0 start. Redick is 3 for 11 from 3-point range during the losing streak after going 6 of 8 over the first two games while averaging 22.5 points. Another area in which Orlando has struggled is getting to the foul line. While Howard led the league in free-throw attempts for them in 2011-12, the Magic's 82 this season are among the fewest in the NBA and they had only eight against Brooklyn. "You have to be committed to execution," first-year coach Jacque Vaughn said. "Not every other play, not every fourth play, but every single play. You have to cut hard every single play. You have to screen every single play for us to have success." Brooklyn starting forward Gerald Wallace will likely miss a fourth consecutive game Sunday with a sprained ankle. The same injury has guard MarShon Brooks listed as day-to-day after sitting out Friday.
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