There was a time this season when the Orlando Magic did not own a home-court advantage. That has not been the case lately.
The Southeast Division-leading Magic look to win their fourth straight game and move closer to clinching an Eastern Conference playoff berth Saturday when they open a four-game homestand against the Indiana Pacers.
Orlando (43-24) has already surpassed last season’s win total (40), and with a 9 1/2-game lead over Washington in the Southeast, is on its way to winning its first division crown since 1988-89.
While the Magic are still weeks away from wrapping up the division, their magic number to secure a playoff spot is just two. The Magic could earn that playoff berth on this homestand, as they’ve been tough to beat in Orlando lately.
After starting the season 7-8 at home, the Magic have won 13 of their last 17 at Amway Arena. They’ve won seven of their last eight games in Orlando, averaging 112.7 points on 50.7 percent shooting in those victories.
Dwight Howard has been instrumental to the Magic’s recent success at home, recording a double-double in eight straight home games. The two-time All-Star is averaging 24.0 points and 16.1 rebounds in those contests.
In Friday’s 103-94 victory at Miami, Howard had 18 points and 16 boards as the Magic won their third in a row. Orlando, which has won nine of 11, is seeking its first four-game streak since Jan. 27-Feb. 2.
The Magic set a club record for 3-pointers in a season Friday, when Jameer Nelson hit Orlando’s 623rd. The Magic also matched a club record by winning their 23rd road game, with six still to play.
“I don’t think we were as sharp as we could have been,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said.
The Magic were still playing poorly at home when they lost to Pacers 115-109 at Amway Arena on Dec. 7, but they won the next meeting in Indiana 121-115 on Feb. 2.
Orlando’s Hedo Turkoglu had just 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting in the home loss to the Pacers, but finished with 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting in the win.
Howard has 39 points and 30 rebounds in two games against Indiana this season.
While Orlando has been red hot at home, the Pacers (25-40) have lost 17 of their last 21 on the road. Indiana lost 116-97 at Dallas on Friday, and has dropped four straight road games by an average of 14.0 points.
Against the Mavericks, the Pacers missed 12 of 13 shots early and were down 31-17 after the first quarter. Indiana finished shooting 38.2 percent from the field, missing 14-of-19 3-pointers.
“Open shots - we’ve got to knock them down and we didn’t do it tonight,” said point guard Travis Diener, who went 0-for-9.
Mike Dunleavy scored 18 points, but was 5-of-16 from the floor one game after scoring 32 points on 10-of-16 shooting in Tuesday’s 114-107 loss to Seattle. Dunleavy has scored 31 points in two games against the Magic this season.
Danny Granger, who leads the Pacers in scoring with an 18.4 average, had 11 points before fouling out Friday. Granger is averaging 28.0 points versus Orlando this season.