Back home following a mediocre road trip, the Orlando Magic look to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.
They’ll get that opportunity Monday night against an Indiana Pacers team trying to win three straight for the first time in nearly a month.
After setting a single-season franchise-record with eight straight road wins before Thursday’s loss in Utah, the Southeast Division-leading Magic (17-6) settled for a split of their four-game road trip with a 106-103 defeat to Phoenix on Friday. Orlando nearly rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit, but lost consecutive games for the first time.
“Our guys fought back,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, “but the bottom line is if you had laid down and lost by 40 points, it’s the same in the standings.”
The Magic, who play seven of their next eight at home, have won three straight and five of six at Amway Arena against Indiana. They routed the Pacers 135-111 in the last game at Orlando behind 27 points and 10 rebounds from Michael Pietrus and 24 points from Rashard Lewis(notes).
Dwight Howard(notes) looks to extend his double-double streak to eight versus the Pacers. He had 21 points and 20 rebounds—his second 20-20 game in that current streak—in a 107-102 loss at Indiana on Feb. 6 that snapped the Magic’s five-game winning streak in this matchup.
Howard, who matched a career low with one field goal attempt Friday, will look for another big game against Indiana, which has won two of three since learning leading scorer Danny Granger(notes) will be out for at least four weeks with a torn right plantar fascia.
The Pacers (8-13) won their second straight and snapped a six-game road losing streak with Saturday’s 114-113 victory at Washington.
Pacers forward Mike Dunleavy scored a season-high 24 points, including two free throws with one-tenth of a second remaining, as Indiana won consecutive games for the first time since a five-game run from Nov. 4-17.
Indiana benefited from three replays in the final moments: a basket by Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas(notes) was waved off with 50 seconds remaining; five-tenths of a second was put on the clock after T.J. Ford’s(notes) missed shot was knocked out of bounds; one-tenth of a second was put on the clock for Dunleavy’s two free throws after he was fouled by Brendon Haywood.
“To scratch out a back-to-back on the road says a lot about the toughness our guys are starting to develop,” said Pacers coach Jim O’Brien, whose team defeated the visiting New Jersey Nets 107-91 on Friday.
Pacers forward Troy Murphy(notes) scored a season-high 28 points with 12 rebounds Saturday, while rookie Tyler Hansbrough(notes) continued his strong play with 19 points off the bench. He is averaging 17.7 points and 7.0 boards in his last three games.
Magic guard Vince Carter(notes) is questionable Monday after leaving in the second half of Friday’s loss with a sore right knee. Playing for the Nets last season, Carter averaged 32.3 points in three games versus Indiana.
The Pacers’ last victory in Orlando was 115-109 on Dec. 7, 2007.