Less than a month ago, the Orlando Magic were mired in one of their worst stretches in years.
Now they’re on the brink of the best one in team history.
Orlando looks for a franchise-record 10th straight win Wednesday night when it visits the New Orleans Hornets.
The Magic fell to a disappointing 16-12 on Dec. 21 after a loss to Dallas, just days after acquiring Hedo Turkoglu(notes), Jason Richardson(notes) and Gilbert Arenas(notes) in two separate trades in hopes of turning the team around.
It didn’t take much longer.
Each of those newcomers were among seven Orlando players to score in double figures Saturday, and Turkoglu set a career high with 17 assists in a 117-107 road win over the Mavericks. Orlando (25-12) tied a team record with its ninth consecutive victory, also achieved in 1994 and 2001.
This streak comes after the Magic had lost eight of nine, their worst nine-game stretch since going 1-8 from Jan. 12-29, 2007.
“We’ve just been talking about getting better and reaching our peak at the right time,” Dwight Howard(notes) told the team’s official website. “We want to have momentum going into the playoffs. Right now, it’s early. I’m glad that we’re playing good basketball, but we’ve got to keep it up.”
Howard had 23 points and 13 rebounds Saturday, Richardson scored 20 and the Magic overcame a 16-point first-half deficit. It was the third time in six games Orlando has trailed at halftime.
“We’re trying to be consistent with the way we play,” Howard said. “We’ve got to learn our lesson, that we can’t expect to play only half the game.”
Orlando has won by an average of 13.9 points during the win streak, scoring 110 or more six times.
A big offensive output may be difficult against the Western Conference’s stingiest defense.
New Orleans (22-16) is giving up 92.2 points per game, tied with Miami for second in the NBA behind Boston.
The Hornets held Carmelo Anthony(notes) to eight points Sunday in a 96-87 victory at Denver. Chris Paul(notes) scored 20 points to lead New Orleans, which had lost its previous two games and allowed more than 100 points in each.
“This was a big win for us,” Paul told the team’s official website. “This shows a little bit of growth for us, to hold this (Denver) team down, because they can really pile up points. It’s a good win.”
Emeka Okafor(notes), who has double-digit rebound totals in 10 of his last 13, likely will match up against Howard. Okafor was selected with the No. 2 overall pick by Charlotte in the 2004 draft, one spot after Howard.
This is the teams’ first matchup this season after Howard had no problem against Okafor and the Hornets in last season’s two meetings, averaging 25.5 points, 11.0 boards and 3.5 blocks.
Paul missed both games - each team won at home - but had 36 points and 10 assists the last time he faced Orlando in a 117-85 home victory Feb. 18, 2009.