Playing their best basketball of the season, the Orlando Magic try to win their season-high sixth straight game and give a boost to their slim playoff hopes as they host the foundering Toronto Raptors.
Orlando has won five in a row and nine of 10 following Monday’s 105-88 rout of Atlanta.
Dwight Howard had 20 points, 16 rebounds and six assists for the Magic, who also extended their home winning streak to 10 games—their longest since an 11-game run from Feb. 29-April 4, 2000.
“You know hard work will eventually show up for our team and I think that’s what the case is now,” said Howard, who posted his 56th double-double of the season.
The Magic are three games behind the Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining. Chicago visits Atlanta while Philadelphia plays at New Jersey on Wednesday.
“We’re trying to enjoy this season all the way to the 82nd game,” said Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu. “If we make the playoffs, great! If we don’t, it’s our own fault. We should have played like this before now because if you look at it, we’re a playoff caliber team.”
Turkoglu has been a key contributor during the five-game win streak, averaging 21.0 points while shooting 60 percent from the field. Second-year guard Jameer Nelson has totaled 43 points in the last two games.
Toronto matched a season worst with its ninth consecutive loss on Tuesday, 106-97 at Miami.
Mike James scored 32 points and Morris Peterson added 23 for the Raptors, who also started the season 0-9 and are trying to avoid their longest losing streak since a 12-game skid from Dec. 18, 2002-Jan. 10, 2003.
James has been one of the few bright spots for the Raptors during the losing streak, averaging 26.7 points. The shooting guard has scored 32 or more in four consecutive games, shooting 54.2 percent (45-for-83).
The Raptors have played terrible defense during their losing streak, allowing an average of 112.6 points.
Toronto, though, can complete the first season sweep of Orlando in franchise history with a victory.