The Other Side: Orlando Magic
Coming off a season in which it ran away with the Southeast Division and won its first playoff series since Shaquille O'Neal moved from Disney World to Disney Land, the Orlando Magic entered this season - the 20th in franchise history - with new pinstriped uniforms and considerable expectations.
So how did this season start? How else? With a dud.
The Magic lost its first two games - a home loss against Atlanta, and an embarrassing road loss in Memphis - but it has bounced back to win its next three games against Sacramento, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Center Dwight Howard had an awesome offseason, winning a gold medal in Beijing and starring in some McDonald's commercials. He is leading the NBA in blocked shots with 4.2 rejections per game and he is second in rebounding at 13.2 boards. Howard missed practice on Friday with a left knee injury. He should be fine for Saturday's game against the Wizards, but there is more going on with the Magic than the slam-dunking Superman. Here's what you should know:
1. Orlando was at its best during a 98-88 win over the 76ers on TNT on Thursday. But not everybody was pleased with how the Magic reached the outcome. Florida Today's John Denton felt Stan Van Gundy could've used his bench a little more against the 76ers. Van Gundy used just eight players in the win.
2. Point guard Jameer Nelson - who has total control of the team with Keyon Dooling now in New Jersey and Carlos Arroyo in Europe - had his best game of the season with 16 points and nine assists against Philadelphia. Nelson has to have a big season if the Magic is going to advance beyond the first round. The team has little depth at point guard, and the team usually plays well when he plays well. He showed that in the playoffs last season.
3. There might not ever be a more low-key $100 million player in the NBA than Rashard Lewis. Lewis is an undersized power forward, but he is starting to feel more comfortable playing alongside Howard.
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