The Orlando Magic have been one of the better home teams over the past couple of years, but their first home defeat this season left a very bitter taste in their mouths.
Orlando will try to avoid losing two in a row on its home court for the first time in three seasons when the struggling Toronto Raptors come to town.
Since 2008-09, the Magic own the fourth-highest home winning percentage in the league. They haven’t lost consecutive games in Orlando since falling to San Antonio on March 25 and New Orleans on April 1, 2008.
The Magic (5-2) led by as many as 18 in the second half against Utah on Wednesday night, but gave up a season-worst 39 points in the fourth quarter en route to a 104-94 loss.
Orlando had held opponents to less than 100 points in all six games to start the season, but couldn’t contain the Jazz, who shot 50.0 percent from the floor.
Teams are shooting at a 48.4 percent clip against the Magic over the last three games compared to 38.5 percent in the first four contests.
“Obviously it was a very tough loss, a very disturbing loss,” said coach Stan Van Gundy. “We’re going to blow games and that’s what we did and so we’re either going to get serious about those areas or we are going to continue to struggle.”
Despite its lapse on defense against Utah, Orlando has limited teams to 90.9 points, and could provide problems for a Raptors team which has lost six in a row.
Toronto (1-7) fell to Charlotte 101-96 on Wednesday and knows it has to be better on the defensive end as it prepares for four straight road games.
“It’s going to be a tough road trip for us if we don’t play defense,” said Sonny Weems(notes), who scored 20 points off the bench against the Bobcats. “The deficit of the points is going to be really large.”
The six-game slide is Toronto’s longest since a seven-game skid Feb. 27-March 13, 2009.
The Raptors are averaging 16.8 turnovers, and will likely need to take better care of the ball if they hope to prevail against Orlando.
Andrea Bargnani(notes) is averaging a team-high 19.5 points, but has been limited to 13.7 in 13 career games against the Magic. Toronto may want to look for Bargnani early and often, though, as it is 3-0 in Orlando when he scores at least 16 points.
Orlando’s Jameer Nelson(notes) scored 19 points in his return Wednesday after missing two games with a sprained ankle. Nelson is averaging 20.2 points and 6.2 assists in his last five games against Toronto.