Since opening the season 6-1, the Jazz have lost nine of 11 and enter this matchup on a five-game skid.
A loss Wednesday would saddle Utah with its worst slide since dropping six in a row from Jan. 26-Feb. 4, 2000. It would also push the Jazz three games below .500 for the first time since they were 27-30 in late February of last season.
“I’ve never been on a team that’s lost this many games in a row, never been on a team that seems to not think that we can win,” Utah guard Raja Bell said. “I think that we’re good enough to beat anybody in this league, but it seems like we get out there on the floor, our body language and the way we go about it, doesn’t seem like we think we can win.”
Even Carlos Boozer has been off his game lately after a terrific start to his first season with Utah. Boozer is still the team’s top scorer and rebounder, but has totaled just 19 points and 12 rebounds with nine fouls in the last two games.
“We have to find a way to play great or good consistently,” Boozer said. “Having highs and lows during the game isn’t cutting it at this level.”
Lapses on the defensive end will cost the Jazz against an Orlando team which is among the league leaders with 100.7 points per game. Utah has given up an average of 112.4 points during its five-game slide.
The Magic also are coming off a loss, but sounded a lot more optimistic than Utah following Monday’s 115-102 defeat at Denver.
“Hopefully we can come back against Utah and have a better game,” said rookie forward Dwight Howard, who had 23 points. “We’ve got to step up and do our job even better. We’ve got some hurt soldiers and all of us got to keep working hard.”
Starting center Kelvin Cato left in the third quarter with a hand injury, and he’s expected to miss some time. Tony Battie missed the game to serve a one-game suspension for elbowing Memphis’ Pau Gasol in a game Saturday, but now is likely to take Cato’s starting spot.
Steve Francis scored 23 points and Grant Hill added 20 on Monday as Orlando had a three-game win streak snapped. It was the opener of a six-game road trip, which also includes visits to Golden State, the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix and San Antonio.