Following a season-high six-game winning streak from Nov. 22-Dec. 1, the Magic (19-14) had gone 4-10 and posted consecutive victories only once before opening a four-game homestand on Saturday.
That night, Orlando snapped a season-worst four-game losing streak with a 97-68 win over Miami. On Tuesday, the Magic beat the Los Angeles Clippers 91-86.
After trailing by seven at halftime, Orlando outscored the Clippers 26-15 in the third quarter and held them to two field goals in the final five minutes of the game.
The Magic have clamped down defensively in the last two games after giving up an average of 105.2 points—12 1/2 above their season average—during the four-game skid. The homestand ends Sunday against Boston.
“I think we’re going in the right direction,” Orlando coach Brian Hill said. “(Tuesday) was kind of the test game for me to see whether we were moving in the right direction or not. Now we just can’t have a letdown.”
Grant Hill, averaging 15.1 points, missed his second straight game Tuesday and is day-to-day with a sore left foot.
Guard Jameer Nelson helped make up for Hill’s absence against the Clippers as he scored a season-high 29 points on 11-for-16 shooting.
Reserve forward Trevor Ariza added 14 points, and is averaging 15.5 over the last seven games as his playing time has incrased due to injuries to Hedo Turkoglu and Hill. Turkoglu has scored in double figures in all four games he’s played since missing three weeks with a sprained ankle.
Charlotte (9-22) had won back-to-back games for the first time all season before losing 102-96 to Minnesota on Monday. The Bobcats defeated the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana to close out 2006.
Monday marked the first time in four games the Bobcats, who average 94.5 points per game, did not score more than 100 points.
It was the first game they had to play this season without starting forward Gerald Wallace, who separated his shoulder on Saturday against Indiana and is expected to be out at least a week. He averaged 34.0 points in his previous two games before the injury.
“It definitely hurt not having Gerald,” said Adam Morrison, who had 18 points Monday after scoring 30 at Indiana. “He’s our do-everything type of guy, inside and outside.”
Starting guard Brevin Knight is expected to miss at least three more weeks with a torn abdominal muscle. For depth, the Bobcats acquired veteran guard Jeff McInnis from New Jersey on Wednesday for swingman Bernard Robinson.
McInnis, a Charlotte native, spent this season on the inactive list with the Nets. He averaged 5.3 points in 28 games last season with New Jersey, but missed the final 48 games after undergoing knee surgery.
These teams have split two games this season, with each winning at home. Sean May had a carer-high 32 points in Charlotte’s 99-89 win in the most recent meeting on Dec. 14.
The Magic have won three straight at home over the Bobcats.