The stumbling Magic will try to avoid their fifth straight home loss on Wednesday night when they host the Knicks, who’ve lost three in a row on the road.
Since their 16-4 start, the Magic (18-11) have lost seven of nine, including a 103-91 loss at league-leading Boston Sunday. Orlando has also lost all four home games over that span, dropping their record at Amway Arena to 5-6. They’re the only NBA team with a winning record overall but a losing record at home.
The Magic last won at home Nov. 24 against Miami, and after their most recent home defeat, a 113-94 loss to Utah on Friday, coach Stan Van Gundy said his team was “soft” and “frightened of contact.”
“I feel bad for our fans,” Van Gundy said Friday. “I would have booed a lot louder than that. … And I hope they will, if they put out the same effort the next time we’re here.
“We had a team-wide effort of guys getting their (butts) kicked, and a lot of guys right now, they’re OK with that as long as they get their numbers. It’s probably gonna continue until we get some guys who want to win.”
Van Gundy may have been happier with his team’s effort against the Celtics, but Orlando still allowed more than 100 points for the fourth time in the last five games, losing all four. The Southeast Division-leading Magic have a 2 1/2-game lead over second-place Atlanta.
Dwight Howard has double-doubles in each of his last 10 games and leads the NBA with 15.0 rebounds per game, but he’s struggled at the free throw line, making just 9-of-26 in the last two games and 58.9 percent for the season.
Howard had 22 points and 20 rebounds in a 112-102 win at New York Nov. 9, but the Knicks (8-19) won the most recent meeting in Orlando, 94-86 on Feb. 3.
The Knicks have dropped two in a row and eight of 10 overall, and after a 95-90 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, coach Isiah Thomas said there would be lineup changes for the game in Orlando.
“We probably have the wrong guys starting and we’ll look to change our lineup and try to get some more energy and defensive guys in the lineup,” said Thomas, whose team is 1-10 on the road.
A likely candidate to start is forward David Lee, who has double-doubles off the bench in each of the last three games after scoring 12 points and grabbing 13 rebounds against Los Angeles. Guard Nate Robinson has also seen more playing time, averaging 18.0 points and 31 minutes in the last two games.
“That is what we need, a change,” New York’s Zach Randolph said. “Obviously we are not doing something right. If he is going to make a change, guys have to be willing to accept a role. Guys have to be supportive.”
Against the Lakers, Jamal Crawford had 31 points as the Knicks nearly erased a 25-point third-quarter deficit. But New York was again without point guard Stephon Marbury, who has missed the seven of the last eight games after the death of his father.
“I haven’t heard from him in terms of when he will be back and it is Christmas,” Thomas said.