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News » Magic-Wizards Preview 2009-03-12

Magic-Wizards Preview 2009-03-12

Magic-Wizards Preview 2009-03-12
The Orlando Magic have wrapped up a playoff berth with more than a month to go in the season, but every game remains critical with their sights set on moving up at least one spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

There's little reason to believe the Washington Wizards will stand in their way.

The Magic will try to win for the sixth time in seven games Friday night as they visit the Verizon Center looking to complete a four-game season sweep of the dreadful Wizards.

Orlando (47-17) has a 10 1/2-game lead on Atlanta in the Southeast Division, making a second straight division title a mere formality with 18 games left.

That may not be enough time for the Magic to catch Cleveland for the best record in the East, but they are very much within striking distance of second-place Boston.

Unlikely to fall lower than the No. 3 seed in the East, Orlando is just a game behind the Celtics in the loss column with a home game remaining against Boston. The second seed would give the Magic home-court advantage in a potential second-round series versus the Celtics.

Orlando joined Boston and Cleveland as the only teams to have locked up playoff berths with a 107-79 home win over Chicago on Wednesday.

"Not that it's been in doubt for any time, but I'm one of those until you do it, it's not done," coach Stan Van Gundy said of officially making the postseason. "The first goal on our board. That part is done. You know you're going to be playing when the season is done. Quite honestly, it's a good feeling."

The Wizards (15-50) certainly won't be playing after the conclusion of the regular season, and every time they've faced Orlando this season they've looked every bit like the East's worst team.

Dwight Howard led the way in the Magic's two November blowouts of Washington, including their fourth straight win in the nation's capital, by averaging 28.5 points and 15.0 rebounds. Washington has been held to an average of 83.7 points and 40.3 percent shooting in the season series, and scored only six second-quarter points in an 89-80 loss on Jan. 6 in the most recent meeting.

Hedo Turkoglu led the Magic with 22 points and seven assists in that game, but he'll be a game-time decision for this matchup after sitting out Wednesday with a foot injury.

Mikael Pietrus (10.2 points per game) will start if Turkoglu can't play.

Washington looked like it might be headed for just its third set of consecutive wins this season on Wednesday, two nights after it beat Minnesota 110-99.

The Wizards led visiting New Orleans by as many as 12 points in the first half, but that lead came apart after halftime. They were outscored 40-22 in the third quarter, and Chris Paul's triple-double helped the Hornets to a 109-98 win.

"They are one of the top teams in the league, and we hung in there and did a great job of executing our offense," guard Caron Butler told the Wizards' official Web site. "We just had a couple mishandles down the stretch."

Butler hasn't had problems scoring against the Magic in the past two meetings, averaging 26.0 points. Leading scorer Antawn Jamison (21.7 ppg), though, has averaged 12.3 points on 38.5 percent shooting.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 12, 2009


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