The Orlando Magic have lacked consistency over the last two weeks, experiencing blowout losses that are becoming all too familiar.
The Dallas Mavericks know the feeling.
Orlando seeks to avoid a sixth straight home loss to Dallas on Friday night in a matchup of teams coming off lopsided defeats.
The Magic (32-19) scored a season-high 117 points in a win over Toronto on Monday, but they followed with a 108-86 loss at New York on Wednesday that snapped their three-game winning streak.
Orlando has split its last eight games - all decided by double digits - with the four defeats coming by an average of 17.3 points.
It's been a similar story lately for Dallas (29-23), dropping three of its past five games with each loss coming by at least 16 points. The Mavericks fell 106-85 in Miami on Thursday and now make the short trip to Orlando looking to keep Dwight Howard in check, just as the Knicks did Wednesday.
Howard scored 12 points - his fewest in a game since the All-Star break - and his five rebounds were one off a season low.
He said the Magic can't pick and choose when they want to play hard if they plan to make a postseason run.
"It's the same thing I've been telling the guys: Our effort has to be consistent," Howard said. "If we want to win a championship every guy has to buy in to playing the right way every night. If we don't do that we're going to be sitting at home early (during the playoffs)."
Coach Stan Van Gundy also has been perplexed by the up-and-down performances given Orlando is in third place in the Eastern Conference. The Magic have scored fewer than 70 points four times, including a franchise-low 56 in a loss to Boston on Jan. 23 and most recently in an 85-59 defeat to Chicago on March 19.
"What is shocking to me is a team that is playing over .600 basketball can get absolutely rocked as many times as we have been - Boston, New Orleans (a 93-67 loss Jan. 27), Chicago and (Wednesday). That's what's mind-boggling to me," Van Gundy told the team's official website. "It will happen some if you are a bad team. But to be a .600 team and get crushed like that as many times as we have, that's shocking."
The Magic have lost five in a row at home to Dallas, with four coming by at least nine points. The exception was a 105-99 defeat Dec. 21, 2010, in the most recent meeting in Orlando.
The Mavericks, though, have lost nine of 11 away from home and have given up an average of 104.2 points over their last six road games. They're among the league leaders in points allowed at 93.3 per game.
Dallas was outscored 26-13 in the fourth quarter Thursday as Dirk Nowitzki missed all five of his field-goal attempts. Nowitzki, though, scored a game-high 25 points and is averaging 25.9 over his last nine games.
"We got some good looks, got some rolls, had everything going," Nowitzki said. "Then they really picked up their pressure and we didn't have many good looks."
An injured Nowitzki missed the last meeting as Orlando won 117-107 on Jan. 8, 2011, behind Howard's 23 points and 13 rebounds. Howard is averaging 30.0 points and 16.7 boards in his last three home games in the series.
- Dallas Mavericks
- Dwight Howard
- The Mavericks