After cooling off two of the NBA’s hottest teams in consecutive games, the Orlando Magic will face one of the league’s worst.
The Magic look to win their sixth straight and third in as many tries this season over the New Jersey Nets on Monday night when the teams meet at the Prudential Center.
After losing eight of nine, Orlando (18-12) has picked up consecutive wins in impressive fashion. The Magic snapped San Antonio’s 10-game winning streak Thursday with a 123-101 victory and beat Boston 86-78 on Christmas Day to end Boston’s 14-game run.
“Hopefully we don’t get full of ourselves,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “But I think it’s good we can establish confidence early on.”
Brandon Bass(notes) scored 21 points and Hedo Turkoglu(notes) added 16 against the Celtics. Battling foul trouble, Dwight Howard(notes) was held to a season-low six points and 11 rebounds. It was only the second time in 28 games he was held to fewer than 10 points.
Turkoglu’s solid game, including going 4 of 8 from 3-point range, came after Gilbert Arenas(notes) helped spark the victory over the Spurs with 14 points and nine assists off the bench. Turkoglu and Jason Richardson(notes) were acquired from Phoenix on Dec. 18, while Arenas was picked up from Washington in a separate deal the same day. Orlando had lost its first two games since the trades.
“You see what the possibilities are,” Van Gundy said. “You see that you have a chance to be a really good team. We’re not there yet by any means, but you have a chance to be a very good team. And I think that right there, that belief and that confidence that if we will stay with it, we can be very good.
“That’s a great thing for our team to get that belief that, yeah, this can work. We can do this.”
While Orlando was looking to revamp its offense with the deals, it shot 39.4 percent in the win and was held below 90 points for the third time in five games. Similarly, it’s been the defense that has been key to its success against New Jersey.
The Nets have lost five straight and nine of 10 against the Magic, averaging 88.9 points over those 10 games.
After winning three of four, New Jersey (9-21) stumbled in a 105-91 loss at New Orleans on Wednesday. The Nets were within four points early in the third quarter, but the Hornets went on a 13-2 run to take control.
Devin Harris(notes) had 21 points and eight assists and Brook Lopez(notes) scored 16. New Jersey was outrebounded 48-30 and allowed New Orleans to shoot 53.9 percent. It was the first time in seven games it gave up more than 100 points.
Howard has averaged 23 points and 13 rebounds in the last two games against the Nets.