After narrowly defeating one of the Western Conference’s worst teams, the Orlando Magic are hoping for a much better effort against another one.
Seeking a season-best fourth consecutive road win, the struggling Magic will try for a sixth straight victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
Orlando (41-24) sits fourth in the East and is chasing Miami for the Southeast Division lead but has played poorly since beating the Heat last Thursday. The Magic followed that win by losing back-to-back home games for the first time since December, averaging 83.0 points and 17.5 turnovers against Chicago and Portland.
They were better offensively Wednesday night to open a five-game road trip, but they were outrebounded by 15 and trailed heading into the fourth quarter against a Sacramento team which entered with the West’s second-worst record.
“We played poorly. We didn’t put much into the game, got crushed on the glass. I’m not happy, but we got a win. We’ll take it and move on,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’ve said (we’ll change) a lot. We say a lot of things.”
Dwight Howard(notes) returned from an automatic one-game suspension for picking up his 16th technical foul and recorded 16 points and 15 rebounds, extending his double-double streak to 22 games - two shy of a career high.
Jason Richardson(notes), who spent his first six seasons with the Warriors, has made 17 of 26 from 3-point range in the last four games while averaging 20.3 points. Richardson is averaging 22.8 points against his former team - his most versus any opponent.
While the Magic had a hard time overcoming the Kings, they’ve had little difficulty against Golden State, winning the last five meetings by an average of 19.6 points. Orlando won 110-90 on Jan. 3 in the lone meeting this season as Howard had 22 points and 17 rebounds, Richardson added 20 points and eight Magic players scored in double figures.
The Warriors (28-36), who are 12th in the West, return home following a 2-5 road trip which dropped them seven games back of Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot.
“We’re not happy at all. We won two games on (the trip). That’s not enough to get us where we want to be,” Ellis said. “We just have to move on from this one and grind the rest of the 19, 18 games we have left.”
Golden State, loser of seven of nine overall, has been held to an average of 86.0 points on 38.2 percent shooting in its last two home contests.
The Warriors are 2-6 at home when scoring less than 100 points. The Magic, who have won their last four trips to Oakland, have limited teams to an average of 95.2 points during their last five road games.