The Orlando Magic have had plenty of time to rest and put an ugly Christmas Day loss to one of their fellow Eastern Conference contenders behind them.
A visit from the Milwaukee Bucks - and the rest of their upcoming schedule - should ease the process considerably.
The Magic close their five-game homestand Wednesday night but open a six-game stretch against sub-.500 opponents seeking an eighth straight win over the fading Bucks at Amway Arena.
Orlando (22-8) began its stint at home with three consecutive victories over above-.500 teams from the West but faltered on Christmas against the team it beat to advance to the East finals last spring.
The Magic were held to 27 first-half points and shot a season-low 33.3 percent in an 86-77 loss to Boston.
“They’re a great defensive team, but there are ways we can get good shots,” coach Stan Van Gundy told the NBA’s official Web site. “We know it, but we just won’t play that way for long enough stretches.”
Orlando fell to 7-7 against teams currently above .500, but the Magic haven’t had any problems handling the league’s lesser clubs. In going 15-1 versus sub-.500 teams, they’ve won by an average of 9.3 points.
Their closest call came Nov. 28 in Milwaukee. Vince Carter(notes) returned from getting four stitches inside his mouth to score 19 of his 25 points after halftime, and Dwight Howard(notes) had 25 points and 20 rebounds in a 100-98 win.
Howard took a season-high 15 shots in that game, and when the reigning defensive player of the year is producing offensively Orlando is at its best. The Magic are 20-4 when Howard attempts at least seven shots and 19-3 when he scores 13 or more.
Van Gundy promised to get Howard more looks in coming games.
“I have to find an answer to that,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not frustrated with Dwight, I’m frustrated with myself.”
Michael Redd(notes) has also been injured for Milwaukee’s last five meetings with Orlando, and though both he and Bogut are healthy this time, coach Scott Skiles isn’t happy with either player. Neither took off their warmups in the second half of Monday’s 94-84 loss at Charlotte, and Skiles hinted changes could be coming.
“It’s not so much producing. It’s body language and the way we look out there,” Skiles said. “The bottom line: this is the NBA. You have to produce. It’s what pro sports is. And we need more consistent production out of our key players.”
Rookie Brandon Jennings(notes) had 24 points and seven assists, but he’s shooting 36.1 percent as Milwaukee has dropped six of seven. Jennings had 18 points on 7-of-22 shooting last month against the Magic.
Redd was 0 for 4 before exiting Monday and continued to struggle on the road. He’s shooting 30.0 percent in seven games away from the Bradley Center.
“I’m a competitor. Obviously I didn’t like it,” Redd said of being benched. “… But at the same time, I support his decisions and keep moving. I’ll be in the gym working hard (Tuesday).”
The Magic have won seven straight at home over the Bucks by an average of 14.7 points.