The Magic look to win their eighth straight Friday night when they host the slumping Rockets.
Orlando (23-12) extended its winning streak to seven with a 97-87 victory over Milwaukee on Wednesday, holding the Bucks to 33 first-half points and 39.3 percent shooting overall.
Defense has played a key role during Orlando’s streak, with the Magic giving up 90.2 points in the last six contests.
That defense, though, wasn’t evident in the second half when the Bucks scored 54 points. Orlando had a poor first half against Golden State on Monday, needing to overcome a nine-point deficit at the break en route to a 110-90 victory.
“We haven’t had the pace these last couple of games that we did in our first couple of games,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I haven’t liked (us) playing a half game these last two games, I haven’t liked it.”
While the defense hasn’t been consistent recently, Van Gundy should find little to complain about when it comes to his team’s offense. The Magic have had six players score in double figures in each of the last five games. On Wednesday, Dwight Howard(notes) had 28 points and 13 rebounds while Hedo Turkoglu(notes) and Jason Richardson(notes) each added 13 points.
Howard has averaged 24.7 points and 16 rebounds the last three games after averaging 12.3 and 10.0 in the previous three. He also helped limit Andrew Bogut(notes) to six points and seven rebounds after Bogut had 31 and 18 in the previous meeting while Howard was sidelined with the flu.
“Dwight was dominant and that’s what we needed him to be tonight,” Van Gundy said.
Playing hard for a full 48 minutes has also been an issue lately for the Rockets (16-19), losers of three straight. They lost 103-100 to Portland on Wednesday despite a season-high 45 points from Kevin Martin(notes).
The Rockets were undone by another slow start. They were outscored 31-25 in the first quarter after shooting 9 of 24 for 21 points in the first period of a loss to Denver two nights earlier.
“You can’t just play here and there because you’re just going to lose most of the time,” Martin said. “We just have to be more consistent on both ends of the court and try to pull these types of games out.”
Martin has had his own consistency issues recently. He scored eight points on 3-of-15 shooting against Denver on Monday after scoring 15 points the previous game. Prior to that, he scored at least 20 points in eight straight games.
The Rockets lost their last visit to Orlando after winning seven straight there.
Howard had 30 points on 11 of 11 shooting in the Magic’s 110-92 victory at Houston on Feb. 24. He had 26 total points in the previous two meetings combined.