New York (18-40) at Orlando (37-23)

Fair Currently: Orlando, FL
Temp: 75° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Sat Mar 1, 2008
  • TV: MSG
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Southeast Division-leading Orlando Magic look to recover from one of their worst shooting performances of the season Saturday when they host the last-place New York Knicks.

The Magic (37-23) missed 10 consecutive shots and failed to convert from the floor for a 10-minute stretch of Wednesday’s 101-89 loss at Philadelphia. They finished shooting 40.5 percent (30-for-74) - their worst mark since shooting a season-low 33.8 percent from the field in a 100-86 loss at Milwaukee on Dec. 12.

“Honestly, this is one of the few games that I thought our biggest problem was our offense,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, whose club ranks fifth in the NBA with a 47.0 field-goal percentage. “We never got into any rhythm or flow offensively.”

Dwight Howard shot a respectable 6-for-13, but went only 2-for-7 from the free-throw line against the 76ers. He finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds.

“I was just frustrated. I couldn’t hit a lot of shots. I missed a lot of free throws,” said Howard, who leads Orlando with 21.6 points per game, 60.3 percent shooting and a league-high 14.4 rebounds. “It was just myself. They played great defense, but I was really frustrated on the offensive end.”

Despite the subpar performance, the All-Star center is making 67.2 percent of his shots while averaging 23.6 points and 13.8 rebounds over the last five games.

Howard will now try to help the Magic win a fourth consecutive game against the Knicks (18-40). He put up 22 points and 20 boards in a 112-102 win at New York on Nov. 9. He was less effective in the next meeting on Dec. 26, but still managed 16 points and 11 rebounds in a 110-96 home victory.

He’ll likely need more help from Orlando’s starting backcourt tandem of Jameer Nelson and Maurice Evans, who were outscored 52-2 by their Philadelphia counterparts on Wednesday.

Nelson had a season-high 24 points and 10 assists against the Knicks on Nov. 9, but managed only six points and seven assists in the December meeting.

New York has alternated wins and losses over the last eight games after enduring a season high-tying eight-game slide. The team is coming off a 99-93 defeat at Atlanta on Friday, during which there were 26 lead changes and 14 ties.

“Unfortunately, we could not get any shots to fall late in the game,” Knicks forward Zach Randolph said. “I think everyone was getting good looks. We just could not execute.”

Randolph posted a season-high 29 points and 17 rebounds against the Hawks. He is second on the Knicks with 17.5 points per game and first with 10.2 rebounds.

Randolph is averaging 25.3 points and 11.3 boards in his last four games against the Magic - all losses.

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Saturday, Mar 1