Some sparse notes from today's pre-game festivities at the new Amway Center, which is a heck of a nice building. And I swear I'm not saying that just because they sit visiting media courtside.
• Dwight Howard will be serving a 1-game suspension tonight after picking up his 16th technical (thanks Kyle Korver!) Friday night during a loss to the Bulls. Ryan Anderson is expected to start in his place. One would assume Howard's absence improves the Trail Blazers' chances of leaving Orlando with a win, though the Magic, winners of seven of their last 11, do have a better all-round roster than they're probably given credit for.
"It's still a talented team," said Nate McMillan. "They're going to be smaller. They've got some other options and i would look for them to try and speed the game up even more as far as their tempo."
And as fans of the Trail Blazers are well aware, sometimes a team responds well when forced to compete without their best player.
"It's an opportunity," said McMillan. "We have experienced being without key guys and guys looking at that as an opportunity to get playing time. The team looks to show they can play; it's more than just Dwight Howard's team. It can be motivation for a team when you're without a guy who does a lot for you."
• Wesley Matthews had the Trail Blazers twitterverse rolling yesterday with revenge fantasies involving Mickey Mouse, an inhabitant of the Orlando area.
"In Orlando. Lookin for a big mouse walkin around that made me drop my ice cream bout 16 years ago. Cookies and cream. I didn't forget," Matthews posted on his Twitter account."
Though he might not have forgotten, Wesley wasn't super exciting to recount the story of the day had to sacrifice a ice cream cone to the most recognizable figure in the world while in Orlando for a youth 3-on-3 soccer tournament.
"We were just out walking around," said Matthews, "had an ice cream in my hand. He bumped into me or I bumped into him. I don't even know if it was Mickey. It was something with mouse ears though."
Knowing Wesley a little bit, it makes perfect sense that he would still remember being wronged over a decade ago. Then again, ice cream is rather important when you're 8 years old.
(Also worth nothing that the media room here at the Amway Center has an ice cream machine, so if things go well tonight, maybe Mickey will reward Wesley with a bit of soft serve.)
• And only because I hate the idea of only having two bullet points, I tell you with some embarrassment that I have been complimented 4 times tonight by players and coaches for wearing striped dress socks.