Dallas (33-21) at Orlando (37-18)

Fair Currently: Orlando, FL
Temp: 76° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Fri Feb 19, 2010
  • TV: ESPN, SUN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Caron Butler(notes) isn’t off to a great start with the Dallas Mavericks, but he could be in line for a big game his next time out.

Butler looks to turn in another huge effort against the Orlando Magic in a matchup of division leaders at Amway Arena on Friday night.

Dallas (33-21) got Dirk Nowitzki(notes) some help over the All-Star break, acquiring Butler, center Brendan Haywood(notes) and guard DeShawn Stevenson(notes) from Washington. The Southwest Division-leading Mavericks have split two games with their new players, with Butler shooting 31.3 percent (10 for 32) and averaging 14.0 points.

The veteran swingman, though, has excelled this season against Orlando (37-18), averaging 27.0 points in two wins for Washington. He scored 31 points and hit a 19-foot jumper with 0.5 seconds left to cap a rally from 21 down in a 92-91 win Feb. 10 in his last visit to Orlando.

The Southeast Division-leading Magic remember that shot well.

“He played for the Wizards, not Dallas so the Wizards beat us,” guard Vince Carter(notes) said. “Right now, it’s our next opponent and that’s just who’s in our way.”

Haywood could be the bigger factor Friday as he’ll try to contain Magic All-Star center Dwight Howard(notes), who averaged 21.5 points and 15.0 rebounds going up against the former Wizards big man this season. Haywood, though, was also fairly productive with averages of 11.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in those games.

The Mavericks are looking for Haywood to help on the defensive end with starting center Erick Dampier(notes) out indefinitely after undergoing finger surgery Wednesday. Dallas used strong defense against the league’s highest-scoring team to win 107-97 at home over Phoenix on Wednesday.

“I hope it is the signature of this team that we continue to play good defense,” Haywood said. “Because when you get to the playoffs, you’ve got to realize that your offense isn’t going to be there every night, but your defensive intensity always has to be there because that’s what’s going to carry you.”

Orlando opened a three-game homestand with a 116-91 rout of Detroit on Wednesday. Howard had 33 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks in the Magic’s eighth win in 10 games.

They finish this home stretch against two contenders, facing league-leading Cleveland on Sunday. The Mavericks and Cavaliers have both made major moves before the trade deadline, but Orlando is seemingly content with its roster.

“We wanna win a championship,” Howard said. “We can’t focus in on what other teams are doing. We have to focus in on what we’re doing to get better.”

The Mavs have won five of six against the Magic, taking three straight in Orlando. Nowitzki is averaging 26.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists in those games for Dallas, which is trying to avoid its first three-game road slide.

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Friday, Feb 19