With more votes than anyone has ever received, Dwight Howard is an unquestioned All-Star. The contributions of teammates Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis, meanwhile, are unquestionably two major reasons why Orlando is among the Eastern Conference favorites to reach the NBA Finals.
The Magic’s first trio of All-Stars look for their fourth straight win and 14th in 15 home games on Monday night as they host a Dallas Mavericks team that’s won five of seven.
Orlando (36-10), which is 6-1 this season in the second game of back-to-back sets, returns to Amway Arena after a 113-90 win over Toronto on Sunday afternoon. Dwight Howard posted his NBA-leading 36th double-double with 29 points and 14 rebounds. He is averaging 24.3 points and 14.0 boards during the Magic’s three-game winning streak.
Nelson, named an All-Star for the first time last Thursday, just missed his first career triple-double on Sunday with 18 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
“I’m really happy with (Jameer),” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said after picking up his 200th career NBA victory. “I try not to say that too often. He and I went at it again today on the bench. … He has had a hell of a year, he’s a big reason for our success right now. I feel very comfortable with the ball in his hands.”
Nelson scored 21 points as the Magic snapped a four-game losing streak to Dallas with a 102-100 victory on Nov. 14.
Lewis made four of the Magic’s 13 3-pointers and finished with 15 points in Sunday’s victory. He had 23 points and nine rebounds in the win over Dallas in November.
Orlando, shooting a league-best 40.1 percent from long distance, has won its last eight games by an average of 19.4 points when making 10-plus 3s.
Mickael Pietrus had 22 points and five rebounds on Sunday. He’s averaging 17.7 points and 6.0 boards in three games since being sidelined nearly a month with a broken right wrist.
Dallas looks for its third straight win in Orlando following Saturday’s 111-96 victory over Miami. The Mavericks (27-19) won their second in a row overall behind another brilliant performance from Dirk Nowitzki. The eight-time All-Star hit 12-of-14 from the floor and scored 30 points as Dallas shot a season-best 60.3 percent.
Nowitzki is averaging 28.7 points and shooting 54.5 percent from the field in his last seven games versus Orlando.
“Dirk is a guy that because he is so great, I think we take him for granted sometimes,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “He made 12-for-14 against a top defensive team look pretty easy.”
Nowitzki will be up against another top defensive team in Orlando. The Magic are among the league leaders, holding teams to 42.9 percent shooting.
Jason Terry had 20 points off the bench on Saturday. He had 20 points in the teams’ last meeting, but missed a shot at the buzzer as Dallas fell at home to Orlando for the first time since Dec. 11, 1997.