Magic and Suns tip TNT Thursday doubleheader

By: Barry Daniels | Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Vince Carter

Vince Carter’s 15.2 scoring average ranks second on the Magic ledger.

The Phoenix Suns could be a little weary Thursday when they travel to Orlando to play the Magic during the first half of a TNT doubleheader. The Suns will be coming off a Wednesday contest in Miami against the Heat, while Orlando has been off since Monday.

Playing the Magic with plenty of rest is a challenge for any NBA team. But meeting them after a tough road game against Miami the night before could prove too much for a Suns team that relies on its legs to score fast-break points.

Pete Korner, who makes the betting numbers for the majority of Nevada sports books as owner of Sports Club, has opened Orlando as a nine-point home favorite on his overnight NBA lines. The total is set at 207 points.

Thursday’s game against Orlando will be the Suns’ second stop on a four-game road excursion. Phoenix will travel to Charlotte for a Saturday contest against the Bobcats before concluding the trip next Monday in Houston against the Rockets.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting in Miami, Phoenix was riding a three-game winning streak that raised the club’s record to 6-4 SU and 5-5 ATS.

Those three wins occurred during a four day span, so the Suns seem to be playing games in bunches. The Suns have already played three sets of back-to-back games this season, and have gone 1-2 both SU and ATS in the second game during those situations.

The historically high-scoring Suns have registered triple-digits in eight of their first 10 games, helping the team rank third in the league offensively with a 108.2 points per game average.

The Suns rank fifth in both field goal percentage (47.6) and three-point shooting (39.8 percent), but are just 23rd in free-throw percentage (73.3).

Defense continues to be a problem for the Suns. Alvin Gentry’s troops are allowing a bloated 106.6 points per game, which ranks 29th in the 30-team league. They do rank dead last in rebounding, averaging just 46.8 boards per game.

An injury to Robin Lopez certainly won’t help the club’s rebounding woes. The seven-foot, 255-pound center will be out until at least mid-December with a sprained left knee.

Orlando enters this contest by winning six of its last eight games, including the last two in a row. The recent surge has lifted the squad’s ledger to 7-3. However, the Magic have failed to cover the spread in seven of their first 10 efforts.

That was not the case in Orlando’s most recent outing, which was Monday’s 89-72 victory against Memphis as an 8 ½-point home favorite.

The combined 161 points dipped well below the 200 ½-point closing total, leaving the ‘under’ 5-4-1 in Orlando’s first 10 encounters. However, the ‘over’ is 5-2-1 in its last 10 home games dating to last season.

Vince Carter collected 19 points to lead the offense against Memphis, while center Dwight Howard had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Jameer Nelson added 11 points and nine assists from his point guard position.

Statistically, the Magic are almost completely opposite of the Suns. Orlando ranks second in the league defensively by allowing just 90.8 points per game. The squad is also third in rebounding, hauling down 44.3 boards per outings.

Offense is where the Magic are struggling, as they rank 22nd with a 97.9 points per game average. Most of the offensive woes are occurring at the free throw line where Orlando is shooting a league-worst 66.8 percent.

The Suns and Magic split the two-game series last season, with each squad winning on its home court.

The game in Orlando saw the Magic register a lopsided 122-100 victory as a 7 ½-point favorite. The combined 222 points skipped above the 218-point closing total, enabling the ‘over’ to go 9-4 in the last 13 series meetings.

Orlando will leave town for a two-game road swing after this game against the Suns. They start the trip with a Saturday contest in Indiana against the Pacers before traveling to San Antonio for a Tuesday meeting with the Spurs.

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