Spurs @ Magic Preview: 11/28/12
The young Orlando Magic acknowledge they still have much to learn. They also know they could get an important lesson from their next game.
The Magic will attempt to bounce back from the first loss on their season-high homestand Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs, who will seek a season-high fifth straight win and eighth in a row on the road.
With a new coach, three returning contributors and four rookies, Orlando knows it might take a little while for things to jell. The Magic (5-8) showed some progress with back-to-back wins to open their five-game homestand and nearly earned another Sunday against Boston before falling 116-110 in overtime.
Orlando led by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter but committed six of its 19 turnovers in the final period. The Magic have had at least 15 turnovers in each of their last seven contests.
"We did a good job of playing against their veteran team," said point guard Jameer Nelson, whose 20 points were one shy of matching J.J. Redick for the team lead. "We've got such a young team. There's a lot we can learn from this game."
The Magic now take on another veteran team, which is also one of the Western Conference's hottest. The Spurs (12-3) are 4-0 on their six-game road trip and blew out winless Washington 118-92 on Monday after being taken to double overtime by Toronto the previous day.
"(Tim Duncan) and (Tony Parker) lead the way, and the role players know what we would like them to do and they do it well," coach Gregg Popovich said. "I'll watch the film and try to find something to (complain) to them about, but it'll probably be unfair."
San Antonio is unbeaten on its road trip despite the absences of Stephen Jackson (broken finger) and Kawhi Leonard (knee tendinitis).
The Spurs might have to endure another absence, with the road trip concluding in Miami on Thursday. Popovich said Monday that he plans to give the 36-year-old Duncan some breaks, especially during back-to-back games.
Duncan played 41 minutes against the Raptors but 23 the next day.
"There'll be times this year when we'll sit him back-to-backs. Win or lose, he's not going to play the minutes he played (Sunday)," Popovich said.
Even if Duncan sits out Wednesday, the Spurs will still have a more experienced squad than Orlando's. Facing that competition is something that could benefit the Magic, Redick said.
"I think you can get confidence from playing against great teams," he said. "It's always a good measuring stick for us."
San Antonio has won four of the past five matchups and swept last season's two meetings, but it needed overtime to snap a three-game losing streak in Orlando. Parker had 25 points in that 85-83 victory Jan. 18, and 31 in a 122-111 win March 14. Duncan had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the home victory, and Nelson scored 25 in a losing effort.
The Orlando point guard has scored at least 20 points in back-to-back games after averaging 9.8 points in his first four games back from a hamstring and groin injury that sidelined him for six.
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