San Antonio (25-3) at Orlando (16-12)

By BRETT HUSTON, STATS Senior Writer Thursday, Dec 23, 2010 Tipoff: 8:00 pm EST Thu Dec 23, 2010

The San Antonio Spurs needed a fourth-quarter rally to hold off the Orlando Magic last month for their 11th straight win.

A win Thursday might provide more than a little deja vu.

San Antonio can pick up an 11th consecutive victory for the second time this season when its visits the Amway Center seeking to hand the new-look Magic a ninth loss in 10 games.

The Spurs (25-3) led after three quarters during the first 10 victories of their 12-game winning streak last month, but had to rally in the fourth to beat Orlando 106-97 on Nov. 22. San Antonio came from behind again two nights later to beat Minnesota in overtime for the final victory of its run.

After splitting four games in the interim, the NBA’s top team is on another tear. The Spurs had to mount a major fourth-quarter comeback to stretch their latest streak to 10, but they did, outscoring Denver 29-14 in the final 12 minutes Wednesday to escape with a 109-103 win.

“It was a huge fourth quarter,” said Manu Ginobili(notes), who finished with 22 points. “I’m still kind of in shock by the way we won it.”

The last time San Antonio had two double-digit winning streaks in a season was 2003-04, when it had streaks of 13 and 11 games.

The Magic (16-12) would simply settle for any victory these days. Orlando lost five of six prior to Saturday’s blockbuster trades that brought in Gilbert Arenas(notes), Jason Richardson(notes) and Hedo Turkoglu(notes), and the situation hasn’t gotten any better.

The new acquisitions have been around for the past two games, a 91-81 loss at Atlanta on Monday and a 105-99 defeat against Dallas on Tuesday, but haven’t done much to help. The trio is shooting a combined 13 for 53 (24.5 percent).

“I don’t know if it’s being in a new situation or putting too much pressure on themselves,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “All three of them are struggling to shoot the ball.”

Dwight Howard(notes) has certainly been doing his part to help carry the load while Orlando adjusts to its new lineup. The two-time defensive player of the year has had three straight 20-rebound games, but he’s also played 40 minutes in each contest. That workload that could turn into a problem, as the Magic have little frontcourt depth after trading backup Marcin Gortat(notes).

“We’re just in a tough stretch right now, but it’s December. It can’t get any worse,” Howard said. “One thing I tell the guys is, ‘Don’t get frustrated with what’s going on right now. We all hate losing. But you know, we’ve got to learn from our mistakes and we have to stay together. We can’t allow games we lose to take us off our goal and keep us from each other.’”

Howard has averaged just 11.5 points and 10.0 rebounds during San Antonio’s last two visits, but the Magic have won by an average of 19.0 points.

He’ll have his hands full underneath with Tim Duncan(notes), but Orlando’s biggest concern should be the Spurs’ backcourt. Ginobili and Tony Parker(notes) combined for 49 points and 19 assists during the win over the Magic last month.

Ginobili led the way with 25 points, and when he’s played well versus Orlando, so has San Antonio. The Spurs are 5-0 when Ginobili scores 25 or more against the Magic.

Orlando might also want to keep an eye on Matt Bonner(notes). The 3-point specialist has had 15 points during each of San Antonio’s last two wins in the series.

The Spurs are 15-0 when Bonner scores at least six points.

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Thursday, Dec 23