The Orlando Magic ended their longest losing streak in nearly three years with an impressive victory over the team right behind them in the Southeast Division race. While the win helped the Magic regain their confidence, they realize it won’t mean much if they follow it up with a loss.
Orlando tries to carry some momentum from its latest victory into the opener of a four-game road trip Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings.
After losing four straight games - all to teams that had losing records - for the first time since February 2007, the Magic (25-12) snapped their skid with a 113-81 win over Atlanta on Saturday to remain atop the Southeast.
Orlando, which leads the second-place Hawks by one game, shot 52.4 percent and had seven players reach double figures in building a 38-point lead. The Magic shot just 39.3 percent during their slide.
“It’s a confidence builder. We still know we’re a good team but we have to go out there and do X’s and O’s,” forward Rashard Lewis(notes) said. “I think we really have to focus in and know that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to win ball games. Can’t one game really turn you around especially going on this road trip playing some good teams, starting in Sacramento.”
Following this game at Arco Arena, where the Kings are 2-5 since winning 10 of their first 13 there, Orlando visits Northwest Division-leading Denver on Wednesday and Portland on Friday before concluding the trip Monday against the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers.
Although this trip appears daunting, the Magic have some positives to take with them on the ride out West.
Redick scored 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting against the Hawks and is averaging 15.4 points on 43.4 percent shooting in his last five games after averaging 4.5 points on 19.0 percent shooting in his previous four.
“He’s just the guy that I think we’ve come to trust, and by ‘we’ I mean not only the coaches but his teammates,” coach Stan Van Gundy said of Redick.
Howard has enjoyed playing against the Kings, averaging 27.3 points and shooting 80.0 percent in four games against them since 2007-08.
With Howard leading the way, the Magic had no trouble beating the Kings last season, outscoring them by an average of 25.0 points to sweep the two-game season series for the first time since 1993-94.
Like Orlando, Sacramento is also coming off a lengthy losing streak.
The Kings (15-21) snapped a five-game skid with Saturday’s 102-100 win over Denver on rookie Tyreke Evans’(notes) tiebreaking 10-foot jumper with 0.7 seconds left. Evans finished with 27 points and is averaging 26.3 points in his last three games.
Sacramento won for the second time in nine games and finally showed some poise down the stretch. The Kings outscored the Nuggets by five points in the fourth quarter after being outscored 32-15 in the final period of Friday’s 108-101 loss to Golden State.
“It’s very gratifying to finally pull one out like this,” center Spencer Hawes(notes) said. “It felt like every game we were in we couldn’t execute down the stretch. Good teams finish in the fourth quarter. That’s what we did.”