Orlando (28-15) at Charlotte (21-20)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Charlotte, NC
Temp: 38° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Sat Jan 23, 2010
  • TV: FSFL, SPSO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A couple of easy home wins over inferior opponents have helped the Orlando Magic regain some confidence. Things likely won’t be as simple over the next week.

The Magic look to win three straight for the first time in a month Saturday night against a Charlotte Bobcats team that tries to extend its franchise-record home winning streak to 10 games.

Orlando (28-15) endured a disappointing stretch earlier this month, losing seven of nine to drop out of first place in the Southeast Division, but it has bounced back with two strong performances.

After Wednesday’s 109-98 win over Indiana helped snap a three-game skid, the Magic defeated Sacramento 100-84 on Friday. Neither of those games were as close as the scores indicated, as Orlando led by as much as 29 against the Pacers and had a 32-point lead over the Kings.

Dwight Howard(notes) had 19 points and 15 rebounds in 26 minutes Friday for the Magic, who haven’t won three in a row since Dec. 19-23.

Coach Stan Van Gundy gave his starters plenty of rest down the stretch in those games against teams with a combined 29-55 record to get his players prepared for a significantly more demanding portion of the schedule.

“We took care of the teams we needed to take care of,” Magic guard J.J. Redick(notes) said. “In both cases, we played great in the first half, got a lead and really clamped down defensively.”

After this game, Orlando plays Monday at Memphis, which has won a franchise-record 10 straight at home, before hosting Atlantic-leading Boston on Thursday and Southeast-best Atlanta next Saturday.

Before trying to break the Grizzlies’ home winning streak, they’ll take a crack at Charlotte’s.

The Bobcats (21-20) are coming off Friday’s 103-89 loss to the Hawks, snapping a franchise-tying six-game run. They allowed Atlanta to shoot 51.2 percent from the floor after yielding an average of 87.3 points on 40.3 percent shooting in their previous six.

“We just came out and played terrible ball,” Gerald Wallace(notes) said. “Defensively, we didn’t rotate, we didn’t help out.”

All the victories during their streak came in a six-game homestand, which concluded with Wednesday’s 104-65 win over Miami, the most lopsided victory in team history.

Overall, the Bobcats have won nine straight at home after falling to Utah on Dec. 19, and are 15-2 in Charlotte since Nov. 22.

Despite all of the Bobcats’ success at home, they suffered a 93-81 loss there to the Magic on Nov. 10—Orlando’s third straight win in Charlotte.

The Magic also defeated the Bobcats 97-91 on Nov. 16 in Orlando and have won six straight and nine of 10 in the series.

Charlotte hopes to have Raymond Felton(notes) available for this game after he sprained his right ankle late in the first quarter Friday. Although X-rays were negative, Felton, who is third on the team with an average of 12.5 points per game, didn’t return.

Wallace and Stephen Jackson(notes) picked up the scoring slack with 25 and 24 points, respectively.

Neither have had much success against the Magic this season, though. Wallace is averaging 12.0 points in two games, while Jackson scored 13 on 4 of 14 shooting in the loss at Orlando, his only appearance against the club this season.

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Saturday, Jan 23