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  • Magic rookie Victor Oladipo will miss his first game of the season because of a sore left ankle. Oladipo is the only Magic player to have played in their first 62 games.
  • Arron Afflalo, Orlando’s leading scorer at 19.7 points peer game, returns after missing five games with a sprained right ankle.
  • Jameer Nelson is sick, giving Ronnie Price his second straight start at point guard for Orlando.
  • Magic coach Jacque Vaughn downplayed the motivational factor of the return of Dwight Howard, who played his first eight NBA seasons in Orlando before forcing a trade. “The only teammate he had who’s still on this team is Jameer, and Jameer is at home sick,” Vaughn said.
  • Howard, who returned to Orlando last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, expects people to get over the bitterness.  “Last year was a little bit fresh with a lot of Magic fans. They were really upset with how things went down, but at the end of the day time heals all wounds,” he said. “Even though it’s only been a year, I’ve forgiven the people that I needed to forgive. Hopefully the fans can forgive me for how the situation ended. But my love for the city will never change.’’
  • Vaughn did not rule out hacking Howard late in the game, if it stays close. “It’s not because it’s Dwight, it’s because of the percentage (55.1) that he shoots,” Vaughn said. “Rest in peace his soul, but if it was Yinka Dare, I would consider fouling him as well.
  • The Rockets’ 20-6 record since Jan. 1 is the NBA’s best. “We’ve got to come out and play a certain style of ball, and I think as the season progressed we’ve played that style of ball more regardless of who we’ve played,” said coach Kevin McHale. “We’ve sustained that style more often than not.”
  • ROCKETS LINEUP: Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones, Howard, Patrick Beverley, James Harden.
  • MAGIC LINEUP: Maurice Harkless, Tobias Harris, Nik Vucevic, Price, Afflalo.

– Dick Scanlon

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