Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro is extremely worried about his team giving away so many possessions.
Howard and the Magic try to avoid their first five-game skid since 2006-07 on Sunday night, when the host Clippers try to bounce back from consecutive one-point defeats.
Orlando (15-8), whose season-high six-game run gave it a 2 1/2-game Southeast Division lead Dec. 3, has since dropped four straight for the first time since Jan. 2-8.
Leading the league in scoring defense heading into Friday’s game in Utah with 91.1 points per game, the Magic yielded a season-high in points in a 117-105 loss.
Despite the Magic being in jeopardy of their first 0-5 slide since Jan. 12-20, 2007, Howard is not ready to panic as Orlando continues its four-game western swing.
“Everyone needs to calm down, that’s it. You are going to lose games,” he said. “When all we talk about is the losing, then we’re going to keep on losing.”
Del Negro knows the league-worst Clippers (5-19) will suffer plenty more defeats if they doesn’t take better care of the ball. After committing 20 turnovers and losing 87-86 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday on a last-second layup by Derek Fisher(notes), the Clippers had a season-worst 27 Saturday in a 84-83 setback to Memphis.
Del Negro’s team is among the league’s worst with 17.2 turnovers per game.
“… We don’t value the ball enough,” he said. “Guys are having four and five turnovers every night. You just can’t win like that.”
While the Clippers’ starting backcourt of rookie Eric Bledsoe(notes) and Eric Gordon(notes) has struggled with 19 combined turnovers in the last two games, No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin(notes) has been a rock down low with 11 consecutive double-doubles.
Griffin is one of three players - along with Howard - averaging at least 20.0 points and 11.0 rebounds.
“The Clippers have got a diamond in the rough,” former Clipper Zach Randolph(notes) said Saturday after Griffin scored 19 with 11 boards. “… His talent had just a tremendous upside and he’s going to be an All-Star.”
Howard, a four-time All-Star, has posted three straight double-doubles since missing two games with a stomach virus, and will go for his eighth in a row versus the Clippers. He is averaging 19.3 points and 15.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks during those matchups - all wins - and had 25 points,11 boards and seven blocks as the Magic won their third straight visiting the Clippers, 97-86 on Dec. 8, 2009.
With the team announcing Friday that All-Star Chris Kaman(notes) will be sidelined for at least three weeks with due to an aggravated bone bruise and ligament sprain in his left ankle, DeAndre Jordan(notes) will continue to start at center for the Clippers. He recorded his first double-double of the season Saturday with 10 points and a season-high 14 boards.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy could start Brandon Bass(notes) ahead of Quentin Richardson(notes) at the power forward spot again. Making his first start of 2010-11, and ninth of his six-year career, Bass had 18 points and eight rebounds in Friday’s loss.
“Sunday we’ve got to turn things around and get back to playing Magic basketball,” he said.
Orlando’s last four-game road losing streak was an 0-5 skid from Feb. 28-March 12, 2007.