The Orlando Magic are in the midst of their longest losing streak in three seasons. Now, the defending Eastern Conference champions are on the verge of losing their Southeast Division lead.
Orlando tries to avoid a rare five-game slide Saturday night at Amway Arena, where it goes for its fifth straight victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Coming off losses to Chicago, Indiana and Toronto, the two-time defending Southeast champion Magic (24-12) dropped their fourth in a row Friday, 104-97 to a struggling Washington team playing its first home game without the suspended Gilbert Arenas(notes).
Orlando led by 10 early in the fourth quarter but made only six field goals in the final 10:38.
The Magic are shooting 39.6 percent from the field during their losing streak. Atlanta (23-12), meanwhile, is holding teams to 87.0 points and 41.3 percent shooting in its last two games.
“It gets worse. It’s terrible,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, whose team hasn’t lost five in a row since Jan. 12-20, 2007 - the season before he arrived in Orlando. “We didn’t have one guy on the floor that could make a shot.”
Vince Carter(notes) hasn’t been able to. The veteran guard in his first year with the Magic is hitting 22.4 percent from the field over his last five games, but he could be sidelined Saturday and perhaps longer after spraining his left shoulder during a collision in the second quarter Friday.
Not only did the Magic possibly lose their leading scorer, their division lead over Atlanta was trimmed to one-half game as the Hawks defeated Boston 93-85 on Friday.
Jamal Crawford(notes) scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter to lead six Hawks in double figures. Crawford, who converted a four-point play and a 3-pointer with 52.5 seconds left to put Atlanta up by nine, is the league’s second-highest scorer off the bench at 17.1 points per game.
While Orlando has struggled with its shot over the last week, Atlanta is making 53.3 percent from the field in back-to-back wins, including 21 of 38 from 3-point range.
The Hawks, though, hit 38.8 percent in a 93-76 loss to the visiting Magic on Nov. 26 - Orlando’s fourth consecutive victory in this matchup.
Atlanta native Dwight Howard(notes) had 22 points, 17 boards and four blocks in that victory. He is averaging 18.9 points, 16.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while posting nine consecutive double-doubles against the Hawks.
In the teams’ last matchup in Orlando, Howard had 16 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in 28 minutes of a 121-87 victory on Jan. 9, 2009.
Atlanta will try to avoid losing three straight on road since a five-game slide from March 4-April 3.
Prior to the loss exactly one year ago, the Hawks had won three of four in Orlando.