With the sting of a four-game losing streak in the rearview mirror, the Orlando Magic looked a lot more like an Eastern Conference contender in winning three in a row last week. With three straight games at home against strong teams starting Monday, the Magic will get a chance to prove that they can score when it matters and avoid lengthy in-game slumps. SportsOptions.com has your Monday night betting preview and free pick from Florida.
L.A. Clippers at Orlando (-1, 191)
When: 7:00 PM ET, Monday, February 6, 2012
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
THE STORY: First up is the Los Angeles Clippers, one of the teams thought to be on Dwight Howard’s trade wish list. The Clippers don’t look like they need Howard at the moment and are in fact welcoming a different new player into the lineup Monday, when Kenyon Martin makes his first appearance. Martin should only add to a front line that just got finished outrebounding the Washington Wizards by 21.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS West (Los Angeles), Sun Sports (Orlando)
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (14-7): Los Angeles has won five of its last six, averaging 106.6 points in the victories. The fast-break highlights of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will be tested during the rest of a six-game road trip that includes visits to strong defensive teams Orlando, Philadelphia and Dallas. The Clippers are enduring a stretch of 14 of 18 games on the road, beginning with a 107-81 trashing of the Washington Wizards on Saturday. The victory pushed Los Angeles to 11-0 when allowing less than 95 points. The defense has been slower to coalesce than the offense, allowing an average of 97.0 points.
ABOUT THE MAGIC (15-9): Orlando has taken nine straight from the Clippers and has won the last 10 in Florida. The Magic should be happy to be home after a strange trip, when they were forced to spend the night in Cincinnati before an 85-81 victory over the Indiana Pacers. Indianapolis was out of hotel rooms because of the Super Bowl. The Pacers began a stretch of four straight against potential playoff teams, with the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks up next.
1. Martin, who was playing in China, averaged 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Denver Nuggets last season.
2. Griffin put up 18.5 points and 14.0 rebounds in two losses to Orlando in 2010-11.
3. Magic guard Jameer Nelson is expected to return to the lineup Monday after missing five straight games with a concussion.
PREDICTION: Clippers 101, Magic 95
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