Hawks-Magic Preview

The Orlando Magic brushed aside the upstart Atlanta Hawks six

months ago. Injuries to a pair of key players might make that task

more difficult.

The Magic could be without Vince Carter and Jameer Nelson on

Monday night when they seek to continue their recent dominance of

the visiting Hawks.

Orlando (4-1) swept Atlanta (6-1) in the second round of last

season’s playoffs, winning the four games by an average of 25.3

points. Including that sweep, the Magic have won 10 of the last 11

meetings in this series overall and five in a row at home over the

Hawks.

Injuries might help end that streak.

Carter, who averaged 18.3 points and shot 51.0 percent against

Atlanta in the playoffs, exited Saturday’s 91-88 win at Charlotte

in the final minutes after suffering a strained right hip flexor

when he slipped on a wet spot and fell hard on the court.

Coach Stan Van Gundy was upset about the injury, which left

Carter’s status uncertain.

“It was a needless injury and that’s what (ticks) me off,” Magic

coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He was pretty hurt and wasn’t coming

back into that game.”

Van Gundy also has cause to be concerned with Nelson’s health.

The point guard sat out Saturday’s victory with a left ankle injury

suffered the previous night in a 105-90 win over New Jersey.

“It’s getting better and I’m just trying to get as much

treatment as I can before (Monday) and see how it feels then,” said

Nelson, who averaged 17.3 points and 6.0 assists in the postseason

sweep of the Hawks. “There is no timetable.”

Continued strong production from Dwight Howard could soften the

blow of the potential absences. The four-time All-Star center leads

the Magic with averages of 22.4 points per game, 11.4 rebounds and

3.0 blocks.

He posted similar numbers – 21.0 points, 13.3 boards and 2.8

blocks – against Atlanta in the playoffs.

Atlanta hasn’t won in Orlando since Oct. 29, 2008. The Hawks are

also looking to open 5-0 on the road for the first time since 1967,

when the franchise was located in St. Louis.

They lost some momentum Sunday, falling 118-114 at home to

Phoenix to end their season-opening winning streak at six.

“We gotta refocus. We gotta go down there and be men on a

mission,” coach Larry Drew said. “We let this one get away at home

(Sunday). We’re playing against a team that has pretty much had

their way with us in the last few games. It’s time for us to stand

up and be counted. We gotta go down there to see what we’re made

of.”

Swingman Joe Johnson and center Al Horford scored season highs

in the loss to the Suns. Johnson had 34 points while Horford added

30, shot 13 for 16 and hauled in 10 rebounds.

Johnson and Horford struggled against the Magic last season,

averaging 14.5 points and 10.5, respectively, in eight

meetings.

Johnson shot just 29.8 percent in the playoff series, including

3 for 17 from 3-point range.