Nets Face Super Test Against Howard, Magic
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ORLANDO (AP) – The way the Orlando Magic responded from an unexpected day off may not bode well for the New Jersey Nets.
After an ensuing blowout victory allowed most of Orlando’s starters to get even more rest, the Magic look to improve to 3-0 at the Amway Center and win their fifth straight at home against the Nets on Friday night.
Orlando (2-1) routed Minnesota 128-86 on Wednesday, setting a franchise record for points in a first half with 78. The big lead allowed the Magic to sit many of their starters, as Rashard Lewis led the team with 29 minutes.
The Magic were already fresh after their game against New York on Tuesday was postponed due to safety concerns at Madison Square Garden. They seemed rejuvenated by the unexpected down time, going 15 of 31 from 3-point range against the Timberwolves after hitting 12 of their previous 48 from beyond the arc.
Dwight Howard had 18 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocked shots while Vince Carter added 20 points and seven assists. It was Orlando’s highest-scoring game since a 135-111 win over Indiana on Jan. 27, 2009.
“I told the guys after the game that we have to do this every night if we want to be a championship team,” said Howard, who played 23 minutes. “We have to bring the same type of effort and energy every night.”
Orlando also benefited from a lineup change. Ryan Anderson made his first start, with Rashard Lewis moving to small forward and Quentin Richardson coming off the bench. Anderson scored 19 points in 19 minutes and made 4 of 8 3-pointers, and he’ll be in the starting lineup again Friday.
While Orlando knows it won’t be able to put up those types of offensive numbers all season, it could have another big game against a New Jersey team that has struggled since beating Detroit and Sacramento to open 2010-11.
The Nets (2-2) fell 85-83 to Charlotte on Wednesday, three days after a 101-78 loss to Miami.
New Jersey led the Bobcats by 10, but allowed Charlotte to close the game on a 16-4 run. Nets forward Travis Outlaw missed two shots in the final 10 seconds and Brook Lopez missed a tip in.
Lopez finished with 17 points, six rebounds and five blocks while Devin Harris had 19 points and eight assists.
“We just have to learn to put teams away,” said Harris, who had 10 points and three assists in the fourth quarter.
Harris spent the final 7:11 of the third quarter in the locker room and on the bench after hurting his shoulder. He came back in the fourth quarter after being diagnosed with a sprain but is questionable for Friday.
The point guard has struggled with injuries the last three seasons, playing fewer than 70 games in each. He is averaging 18.8 points and 8.3 assists in 2010-11.
After playing its first four games at home, New Jersey hits the road for two straight and seven of nine. The Nets were 4-37 away from home last season, ending the season on a 10-game road losing streak.
The Magic won all three matchups with the Nets last season. Three of Orlando’s four consecutive home wins in the series have come by at least 16 points.
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