This doesn’t bode well for a Golden State Warriors team not known for its defense and missing two of its top post players.
Howard looks to lead the Magic to their 10th win in 11 games Saturday night when they visit the struggling Warriors.
With his incredible athletic ability and intimidating presence in the paint, Howard has been one of the NBA’s top centers over the past few seasons. He is among the league leaders in field-goal shooting (65.2 percent), double-doubles (14) and rebounds (12.3 per game), and has helped lead the Magic to the top of the Southeast Division.
Despite Howard’s strong start, Van Gundy feels he should be getting the ball more.
The three-time All-Star finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday’s 118-104 win over New York, but took only seven shots from the field. It was the sixth time in nine games with nine or fewer attempts for Howard, whose season average of 9.4 field-goal attempts is three fewer than 2008-09.
“I’m trying to make more of a conscious effort to get him the ball,” Van Gundy said. “I still think we can get better, but he’s been more aggressive.”
A game against Golden State might be the perfect time to get Howard more involved.
The Warriors (6-12) have allowed a league-worst 113.6 points per game, and with big men Andris Biedrins(notes) (groin, abdomen) and Ronny Turiaf(notes) (knee) out, coach Don Nelson has been forced to shuffle his lineups.
The Warriors were in position to beat the Rockets, but squandered a 10-point lead with 6:21 left in the fourth to lose for the seventh time in 10 games.
Howard had 11 points and 11 rebounds in his only game against Golden State last season, a 113-81 win Dec. 22. He’s had more than 20 rebounds twice against the Warriors but has scored more than 20 points just twice in nine games against them.
The Magic swept both games with the Warriors last season as Rashard Lewis(notes) scored 21 points in each. The veteran forward has found his groove in Orlando’s offense after being suspended for the first 10 games for testing positive for an elevated testosterone level.
Lewis had 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting and a season-best 11 rebounds Wednesday after scoring a season-high 26 points in Sunday’s 114-102 win at New York. Orlando has won four in a row and is 8-1 with Lewis in the lineup.
“It lets you know that we have a deep team,” he said. “We have a lot of guys that can help us win games. We have a deep bench.”
The Magic have won six straight away from home and now open a four-game road trip at Golden State, where they’ve won the last three meetings. Orlando hasn’t won seven consecutive road games since Nov. 3-19, 2007.