|Late NBA: Orlando at Seattle|
|Written by TheSpread|
|Wednesday, 29 November 2006 17:00|
Bettors Like Streaking Magic on The Road Against The Sonics
67% of Bets Placed on Orlando +2.5 | Matchup | NBA Picks
Orlando (11-4) has won four straight and eight of nine, including an 88-75 victory over Utah on Monday. In a matchup between the teams with the best records in their respective conferences, Orlando overcame a poor shooting night thanks to another strong performance by Dwight Howard.
The forward had 21 points and 16 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double and 11th of the season on a night when his team, which has been one of the NBA's most accurate from the field this season, shot a season-low 39.5 percent.
``We couldn't do anything with Howard,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. ``He's so big and long, we couldn't keep him off the boards. He got huge rebounds and he obviously made his free throws.''
Howard was just 4-of-11 from the floor, but 13-of-16 from the foul line. The Magic are shooting 48.1 percent from the floor on the season.
Howard also helped Orlando outrebound the Jazz 45-36, including 15 offensive boards against the league's best rebounding team. The Jazz average 45.3 rebounds per game.
``The big thing is we were able to get stops at the other end of the court,'' Orlando coach Brian Hill said. ``We did a good job getting to the free-throw line and getting balls off the glass that gave us a lot of extra possessions on a night where we frankly didn't shoot the ball well.''
Hill's club was 26-of-34 from the foul line, as opposed to 16-of-20 for Utah.
With strong shooting and solid, consistent performances from Howard, the Magic are off to their best 15-game start since the 1999 season, when they also opened 11-4.
Howard is averaging career highs of 16.7 points and 13.7 rebounds, and he's been at his best on the road, with 19.1 points and 15.8 rebounds per contest in seven games away from Orlando.
Howard averaged 18 points and 17 rebounds in two games against Seattle (6-9) last season.
The Sonics have lost two in a row and five of the last seven, including a 98-78 rout at the hands of San Antonio on Sunday. Seattle shot a season-worst 38.4 percent from the field and was outscored 27-15 in the final quarter.
Ray Allen led Seattle with 21 points, while reserve Nick Collison added 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Bob Hill criticized the play of his reserves, who, without Collison's contribution Sunday, scored 10 points.
``We have been doing so poorly with our bench scoring,'' he told the team's website. ``When we got to our bench, our scoring just falls off, and it puts more pressure on Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen. That's a problem. We've got to get some points. There is no help for the first group.''
Damien Wilkins, a reserve averaging 6.2 points, disagreed with his coach's assessment.
``He says the bench is struggling a bit,'' Wilkins said. ``I say he needs to develop more trust in us. It seems like his leash is so short with everybody. If he develops a little more trust in us, I think we will be able to play with and develop more confidence.''
Seattle has won 11 of the last 14 matchups with Orlando at KeyArena.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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