While the Orlando Magic try to get on track offensively, they’ve managed to stay competitive by being one of the NBA’s best defensive teams.
Orlando looks for its first road win of the season Wednesday when it faces the Oklahoma City Thunder, losers of four in a row.
The Magic (4-3) were the league’s sixth-highest scoring team in 2007-08, averaging 104.5 points. This season, though, they’ve only reached the 100-point mark twice and are averaging 98.4 points.
The drop off comes despite Dwight Howard getting off to a good start, as the star center is averaging a career-best 23.0 points. He scored 29 on Monday and added 19 rebounds, but Orlando lost 106-99 to Portland.
The Magic suffered through an 11-minute, 3-second stretch of the second half without a field goal, and also had their worst defensive game of 2008-09, allowing a season high in points. The Magic are giving up 93.7 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting.
“I don’t think it was necessarily the offense,” forward Rashard Lewis said. “Obviously, not making shots is making it a little tough for us. But our defense, we couldn’t control the pick-and-roll and they made a lot of 3s. We weren’t rotating like we should have … They pretty much got whatever they wanted tonight.”
Orlando finished its homestand 4-1, and is opening a three-game road trip. The Magic’s first game away from Amway Arena didn’t go well, as they were held to a season low in points in an 86-84 loss to Memphis on Oct. 31.
Orlando will try to bounce back defensively against Oklahoma City (1-6), which is averaging 88.0 points and is near the bottom of the league in shooting at 40.4 percent from the field.
The Thunder’s losing streak continued Monday with a 107-99 defeat to Indiana, as they shot 38.7 percent from the floor. Oklahoma City wasted a big game from Kevin Durant, who scored a season-high 37 points.
“I found some good looks, I was able to knock some down, but we’ve got to learn how to finish our games,” said Durant, averaging 27.0 points in the last three contests.
No other Oklahoma City player scored more than 14 points.
“We’re trying to find our way offensively in the halfcourt,” Oklahoma City forward Nick Collison said. “We struggled. When Kevin scores close to 40, it’s great for us, but we’ve got to find a way to get some easy buckets, too.”
Oklahoma City is 1-3 at home, averaging 85.8 points. Durant is averaging 16.8 points on 38.0 percent shooting at home compared to 29.0 points and 53.2 percent on the road.
Orlando has won five straight against the Thunder franchise. Howard had 39 points, 16 rebounds and five blocked shots in the last meeting Nov. 28, a 110-94 Magic victory in Seattle. Durant scored 22 points but shot 6-of-21 from the field.