|January 27, 2009 - 7:00PM EST|
|Radio: 1070AM WFNI TV: Fox Sports Indiana|
|Jarrett Jack||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Mike Dunleavy||SG||Courtney Lee|
|Danny Granger||SF||Hedo Turkoglu|
|Troy Murphy||PF||Rashard Lewis|
|Jeff Foster||C||Dwight Howard|
The Indiana Pacers head to Orlando to take on the Magic after winning a pair of games at home and appearing to tighten things up at the defensive end of the floor. With a strong inside presence and even stronger perimeter shooting, the Magic figure to test whatever progress the Pacers have made.
Regardless of the defensive effort, the Pacers will have to shoot it better than they have in the past two games. The team has done well rising to challenges this year so hopefully they'll pack the shooting touch to make sure this one goes down to the wire.
The timing could be better for the Pacers. Heading into tonight's game, the Magic have lost two in a row (Boston, Miami) so Stan Van Gundy used the rare struggle this season to light a fire under his best players. Last thing I want to see tonight is a focused and surly Dwight Howard. Fortunately, I don't think Howard does surly, but if he's focused and ready to go he'll bring plenty of beast to the party for the Pacers front line. May need to activate a couple more bigs tonight, just in case.
Here are the Pacers.com matchups. Another game and another local player involved. Courtney Lee has exceeded expectations this year as a rookie and worked his way into the playing rotation for the Magic. The former Pike standout has started the last nine games for the Magic, stepping in for the injured Mickael Pietrus. He will likely try to defend Danny Granger which will help keep Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis fresh to shoot the ball, although Danny should have a nice size advantage on Lee.
For an Orlando perspective, check out Third Quarter Collapse.
UPDATE: Josh McRoberts checks in on the mustache gang and reveals some disturbing news. This is a contest to see who can keep the 'stache the longest and Travis Diener and Troy Murphy have already bowed out. You can't shave with a two-game winning streak going. After the game on Sunday, Foster was talking about a Tom Selleck-level 'stache so hopefully he, Dunleavy and McRoberts will keep it going.
- Mike Wells focuses on Brandon Rush and his diminished role of late.
- Kevin Lee breaks down the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, exposing all the variables involved with the Pacers' hopes to get in the mix.
- Speaking of local hoop stars, Mark Boyle chats with Mike Conley, Jr. in his latest podcast.
- Brian Schmitz wonders if the Magic's success will result in an extra player or two joining Dwight Howard at the All-Star game.
- Brian Schmitz has more on Courtney Lee using defense to expand his role on the Magic.
- Todd Taylor reports on the Pacers finding ways to win.
- Kirk Bohls found a "sullen" T.J. Ford in San Antonio as the former Longhorn hopes to get healthy and rekindle the fire in his game. Ford was certainly flashing his smile after the win over Charlotte on Sunday.
- Billynho reminded me last night that he was quite prescient with his early season prediction about Danny Granger's offensive production this year.
Leave your comments and observations on the game in the comments.