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Rockets vs. Magic game preview: this one’s for all the ping pong balls

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NBA: Orlando Magic at Houston Rockets POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game is one of only two more on Houston’s schedule against teams not fighting for the playoffs or playoff positioning. Much like their game against Minnesota in a week and a half, this game could have major repercussions for Houston’s lottery chances.

It should come as no surprise that the three worst teams in the NBA all owe their first round picks to other teams. Technically, Detroit owes Houston a first round pick, unless it falls in the top 16 (which it will), but both Houston (top 4 protected pick gets swapped to OKC) and Minnesota (top 3 protected pick goes to Golden State) understand the need to stay at the bottom of the standings.

Orlando showed up to the tank party a little late, but they arrived in style. The Magic traded away almost every player they could at the trade deadline, and along with Oklahoma City are trying to crash the bottom 3. We’ll see how much Detroit pushes for wins, but it appears Houston and Minnesota are going to make sure they stay in the basement. Houston’s aforementioned schedule will surely help.

The Magic rely on Terrence Ross, Gary Harris, Wendell Carter Jr., and Cole Anthony to carry the scoring load. That seems a tall task, but Orlando has wins over the Clippers, Pelicans, and Bulls over their last ten games.

Houston goes into this one knowing that a win won’t be devastating, so I expect them to go for it. The Rockets have enough talent, but youth and the inconsistency that comes with it have doomed the good guys far too often this season.

Tip-off is at 6pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest